Old habits die hard (and why that might not be a bad thing)


When we relocated the Sequence office a few years ago, we took the usual factors into consideration. There was the cost, the space, the lease terms, access to transit, general location convenience, etc. Team members had their priorities in different orders, but truth be told though I had a hidden agenda that I didn’t share with anyone at the time: I missed my old coffee shop. If you asked me to describe the place I could tell you that it was a cool neighborhood spot with a great vibe and kick ass coffee. Or I could come clean and tell you that it was a Starbucks. The thing is, I had been going there for four years and I desperately wanted my routine back.

While it’s pretty clear that I’m a creature of habit, I can at least take solace in knowing that I’m not alone. A 2006 Duke University research paper found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits. 40 percent! To think that your brain is on autopilot for almost half the time you're awake is pretty staggering.

Of course, organizations are defined by habits just as much as individuals are. As a growing agency in the service business, developing the right habits and routines are crucial to our success. Below are a few that we’re passionate about:

A Formula for Success.

In the Sequence world, process is king, and ours is simple: Scope of Services—>Timeline—>WorkZone. Each of our client engagements is based on a scope of services, which outlines the engagement expectations. Following an agreed-upon scope we create a detailed timeline. The timeline includes all tasks, due dates, and those responsible. It’s a living document that’s constantly updated and essentially a road map of how to achieve the scope and execute a successful engagement. From there, WorkZone takes over. WorkZone is our project management system that helps ensure each timeline task is being actively coordinated. Each organization’s process is going be different, but in the service business we’re all shooting for the same thing: a unique offering with a client experience that’s going to be the same every single time.

Remembering the Why.

Clients hire us to take care of the details, and we love the details. But while a flawless awards show might be why we we’re hired, it’s probably not the overarching goal of the event. Remembering to periodically ask yourself ‘Why were we hired?’ is effective. Remembering to periodically ask yourself ‘Why is the client organizing this event in the first place?’ can be invaluable.

Relationship > Event.

Former President of Starbucks Howard Behar had the fantastic quote ‘We’re in the people business serving coffee, not the coffee business serving people’. For Sequence, who we are, and what we do, that quote couldn’t be more apropos. The only thing stronger than our event work needs to be our relationship work. It’s our job to routinely remind ourselves that we’re in the service business, where a happy client trumps all - even a great event.

So much of our lives — personally and professionally — are driven by habits. That may not be something we control, but it is within our power to make sure they're good ones. Because just as old habits die hard, so do new ones. Just ask my favorite coffee shop.