Photo Credit: Becky Holt

I’m Not a Pessimist, I’m in Operations!

Have you ever heard someone say “All you people in operations are so pessimistic” when you are in a meeting? I’ve been in operations and customer service a long time and I’ve heard that more than a few times. Let me tell you two things. First, it doesn’t mean you’re a pessimist just because you’re on an operations team. Second, it probably means you’re good at what you do.

I’m here to dispel the notion that people in operations are pessimists. We’re not. At least not all of us. And no, we’re not realists, either. OK, we probably are, but we don’t just say that to explain away being a pessimist. No, in operations, we are planners. And we don’t plan just for the good times. We plan for the bad times. That’s what makes us good.

“And no, we’re not realists, either. OK, we probably are, but we don’t just say that to explain away being a pessimist.”

The goal of operations is to make everything we do better, faster and less expensive. An important way we do that is we build processes and checklists. We spend a lot of time driving inefficiency out of our daily tasks. By doing that, we both reduce the number of things that can go wrong (at least the things over which we’re in control) and we enable ourselves to better handle things when they do go wrong.

To achieve the overarching goals of operations, we are meticulous in our planning. We think about what could go wrong. We plan for the worst case scenario. We think in terms of contingencies, what ifs and how will we handle it if this happens.

This doesn’t mean that the worst case scenario always happens, because it usually doesn’t. But neither does the best case scenario. The truth is that whatever happens, the result probably comes down somewhere in between the best and worst cases.

With more than 20 years of experience in the leadership and management of operations and customer service, I’m happiest when working to bring out the best in people and organizations. I’m deeply committed to coaching and mentoring and I’m a lifelong learner inspired by curiosity. I’m a passionate advocate for leadership, social responsibility and making a real difference in the world. If you would like to learn more about how to grow as a leader or work with me, check out my LinkedIn profile and drop me a note.

This article was originally published at on July 8, 2016.

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