Themes and variations

Posted by Kirsten Gibbs on February 6, 2019
  • A common reaction to the idea of writing a ‘score’ for a business is “That’s not possible! There are just too many variations we’d have to account for.”

    The trick is not to try.

    In practice, most of what happens in a business follows, or should follow a ‘usual route’. So we build the score around that ‘usual route’. That keeps it simple and uncluttered, which in turn makes it easy to follow and learn.

    Variations usually occur around the technicalities of what the business is doing. They take place at the level of the musician not the score. And as a professional the musician can be safely left to use their judgement to deal with the variation.

    As a more concrete example, take dog-walking. Several years ago I worked with a client to franchise their dog-walking business.

    We created a ‘usual route‘ for running a dog walk. It covers collecting dogs from their homes and transporting them to the local park, taking them through exercise, training and play in the park, then reversing the process to get them all back home.

    All dogs are different. They have personalities and with them preferences about how they come into contact with other dogs. These preferences need to be taken into account at various points in the dog-walking process. It would have been madness to try and include every possible preference and combination of preferences in the main process. So, instead the business owner created a separate ‘Techniques’ handbook, which contained tips and tricks for different situations.

    This meant that in the manual, we could simply reference to the appropriate section in the Techniques handbook, together with an instruction along the lines of “Use your knowledge of dog behaviour and your experience of dogs to apply the appropriate technique(s). You’ll find them here ->.”

    This created the right balance between dictating the ‘score’ and leaving the musician free to get on with playing it, while at the same time providing helpful hints for variations that might not happen very often.

    The result was that everyone was happy. Our first franchisee was delighted: “I know exactly what I have to do.”, and the new franchisor could be confident that her service would continue to delight clients as she grew her business.

    We can do this because we’re dealing with human beings, not machines.

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