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Aug. 3 2012 01:43 PM

Don't "Just Do It"
Nike and Wieden+Kennedy, Nike's primary ad agency, coined the now-famous slogan "Just Do It" for a 1988 Nike ad campaign. This statement encouraged us to get moving and get fit. It inspired us to stop procrastinating with our fitness and make a spontaneous-like decision to improve ourselves. Although I am a big fan of spontaneity, fitness and focus, there are a few things in this world that need to be thought out to "do it" just right.

The Patio Builder
A few years ago, I was in the market for a new deck, or at least I thought I was. I wanted a stable, flat surface for my barbeque, a place to put a patio set to eat dinner at in the summer and a place to catch some rays. So being a "due diligence" kind of guy, I thought I would call a few companies to get some quotes. The approaches by the companies were very different. Wood deck builders wanted to know where I lived and the size of the deck I wanted. The concrete patio guys said, "We would like to schedule an appointment to check out your backyard and discuss your needs prior to providing available times and pricing." So I received my quote via email from the deck company in the afternoon and the next evening I met with the patio "pre-assessment" fellow. The gentleman from the patio company inquired about my needs, asked about my time constraints and measured the area. In about 45 minutes he gave me a description of their process, the staff, provided references and addresses in the area so I could check out their work. He then provided an estimate and asked if that was around what I was thinking about spending.

What did he really do?
· He listened to my needs - he did not provide a cookie cutter quote
· He created credibility - he explained the designs he had done for others with similar wishes
· He established my budget - he ensured that he was only going to do what I could afford
· He knew what type of effort it would take so that I knew what to expect
· He answered all of my questions

Now that I had an idea of the budget, the temporary disruption level and project timing, he sent in his "technical" crew leader to double check the quote, take final measurements, create a project plan and to ensure that he had a full understanding of my needs. I provided a deposit and scheduled the project. Needless to say, as with all projects, it was not perfect. They misunderstood what I wanted the built-in planters to look like, so we reviewed the original plan to discover where the miscommunication was and it was fixed. I was a very satisfied customer! Why? Because they did not "just do it".

The Chiropractor
The other day, I had a stiff lower back so I went to see a chiropractor. My expectation was that I would go in and fill out some paperwork and be adjusted to alleviate the pain. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by his thorough assessment of my entire system. He did not just assume that because my back was sore that I did something to aggravate it. He investigated a little more by putting me through a battery of tests to understand the demands I put on my back, the frequency of activities, and the alignment of my spine. He also checked out my reflexes and my reactions to nervous system tests and recorded where I was today. After doing all of this, I asked, "So are you going to adjust me now?" He said, "No, I would like to get some x-rays of your spine" because he could only feel what was wrong. Essentially, he wanted to validate that his theories were correct with evidence.

What did he really do?
· He identified the root cause of the pain - he did not just jump in and start adjusting my back
· He understood my goals - to play pain free volleyball and to run a 10k race in 5 months
· He created credibility - he did more tests than the average chiropractor
· He established where I was today - recorded the current state data
· He validated his theories - he sent me for x-rays for proof
· He created a plan so I could achieve my goals and use my insurance coverage
· He answered all of my questions
So why do we do assessments?Professionals from all industries conduct assessments.

Like the Patio Builder and the Chiropractor, I do "pre-assessments" before digging in or making any adjustments - respective puns intended. The pre-assessments allow me to get an understanding of the scope of a project and the potential for improving the current state. I also conduct assessments or Discoveries, as we call them, if the organization wants to optimize their document production operation and processes.

My point is simple. Professionals from all industries conduct assessments.

A summary of why professionals conduct assessments is below:
· Establish a Current State
o this is critical for measuring against in the future
o customers need to know how much the proposed changes will improve their situation once a solution is implemented
· Build a Return on Investment Model
o in these times of shrinking budgets and shortened timelines a good return on investment is critical to get projects moving forward
· Create a Plan
o to migrate from the current state to the future desired state, a well thought out plan is critical to reaching goals and measuring success

So, why should you budget time and money for professionals to conduct assessments?

A summary of reasons are below:
· Gain Access to Technical Skills
o it is impossible to be an expert in all areas
o professionals have tools and methodologies to gather information quickly
o a specialist will notice things that you may not or they may be able to explain why those things are relevant to the overall situation
· Experience and Benchmarking
o since the specialist conducting the assessment does it every day, they are able to discuss trends and how you compare to others
o professionals will continually improve their processes to get better results for the next customer so you benefit from their past
· You don't know what you don't know
o professionals have to stay abreast of the latest technology and offerings in the market
o they know the answers to questions you have not even thought of asking yet or how to find answers through their network of expert peers
· Concise Presentations
o professionals can summarize goals, issues, data and other facts into a succinct message so all stakeholders involved understand the options and what is in it for them
Ben Franklin was right.
In 1736, Ben Franklin said, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." His statement was referring to insurance but it certainly applies to anything that you can avoid messing up by doing your due diligence or homework. Anything that is significant to you, whether it is building a deck, your health or running your business, should be thought through thoroughly to understand your options and to get it just right.

Paul Abdool is the National Practice Manager for the Production Print and Mail Practice Group within the Enterprise Solutions division of Ricoh. His team helps organizations to optimize their large volume printing operations.