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We’ve owned a couple of Jaguars along the way (the car, not the cat). Jags are fine cars but, historically, notoriously poorly built. When Ford purchased them many years ago—a disastrous acquisition—a group of Ford executives visited a plant in England to find a multi-disciplinary work team at the end of the assembly line. They were asked why they were stationed there, after the car was fully assembled.

“We’re here to fix the errors,” they explained, “and we never know what they’ll be!”

Our Vanden Plas sedan was a gorgeous car, but full of kinks. It would honk on its own volition. One day, at a traffic light, my wife pulled up behind a police car. Just as the light turned green, the car honked twice. The officer got out of his car, put on his hat, bent over to the driver’s window, and said to my wife, “Are you some kind of smart ass?”

“The car honks on it own,” explained my wife.

“You expect me to believe that?!”

At that point the car went, “Honk, honk!”

“Get out of here,” said the cop.

Our Jag XF sports car was fabulous, but it needed a quart of oil monthly. Since that was cheaper than trying to have the leak fixed and losing it to the dealer for a month, we simply lived with it. (They never could fix those leaks adequately.)

Preventive action is always superior to contingent action. The best sprinkler systems are only used after the fire has already started. Build it right the first time and you save time, money, and embarrassment. That applies to your clients, and to your consulting work.

Written by

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker, and author of over 60 books. His consulting firm, Summit Consulting Group, Inc., has attracted clients from over 500 leading organizations around the world.

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