not reinventing the beeping noise

  • On our 2008 Honda CR-V, we have different beeping, alarm tones for leaving the key in ignition, headlights on, and parking brake on.  3 different tones.
  • On our 2005 Mazda 3, we have a single tone that is used for both the keys and lights.  No parking brake.
  • Of all cars, the 2004 Jeep Wrangler – bare bones vehicle, zip-up windows, etc – had a single warning signal for the lights, keys, and brake.

How is it possible that that three different cars utilize different methods for the simple task of notifying a driver that he or she has forgotten to do something, or left something behind?  The ones that are most similar – the Honda and the Jeep, are almost as far apart as possible in terms of types of car (well, if it was an Acura or something that would be farther…).  And somehow the Mazda can’t even bother with all three tones.  The features of the Jeep – a car WITH NO WINDOWS – are more user-friendly than those on our Mazda.

It’s not as if the beeping sound for the brake was first invented by Jeep, musth less copyrighted (which would be required in this scenario, since the Jeep is older than the Mazda).  Nor the idea of different tones being used in the Honda.  And it can’t possibly cost much in terms of Cost of Goods Sold (COGS), which affects margin, for there to be either three tones or three different tones.

If I had to fill out a form right now asking for features I’d like in a car, having tones (same tone okay, since I can never remember which tone is for which problem) for all of those items would be on that list.  These simple things.  Just take the simple things that others have done, and make sure that you have at least those same things.  Then innovate from there.

How is this at all relevant?  Simple – if you’re running a Help Desk, get the basics of support, time to resolution, quality of customer service, etc , to the standard that others schools with roughly the same resources and limitations have achieved.  If you have a small server farm – or a giant data center – look at what others have done and just flat out copy the best of breed basics.  I don’t mean the whole kit-and-kaboodle.  I don’t mean just copy every last detail.  But there have to be common denominators that have sound solutions, proven over time, that are easily replicated.

Just as Mazda should not spend much time deciding whether or not to put in 3 bells – which can, I think, be concluded is a better solution than just 2 bells – why not just start off with 3, and spend more time deciding if an auxiliary audio input should be put in or not? Or, a year later, when all Mazda 3’s had those inputs because basically all cars had them, how about making the front console more user-friendly or improving something else?  Innovating beyond the basics.

I’ll admit that we are not doing as good of a job at this as I’d like.  And hopefully as we’d like, either.  But once we can get everything to a baseline standard – and it is definitely feasible – then we can start to really mix things up.  Think of new things and build up an overall structure that is above and beyond.

So let’s get started on the foundation.

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