Are We Drinking Our Own Bathwater?
The printing industry is very much a closed network, an insular community dominated by those who have worked in it for decades. We recognize the same faces each time we return to drupa, GRAPH EXPO, or the Gold Ink Awards.
These longstanding industry relationships provide lots of benefits, including trust and a strong ecosystem to track reputations. Knowing many of the same people, we can more easily do the diligence necessary when hiring. Because we “speak the same language,” we can reduce the amount of management required on projects or in departments.
But this type of network comes with a side effect of groupthink. With groupthink, an etiquette filter generates an echo of what one thinks the other person wants to hear. We’re too polite. (Though some might assert that I am the exception here!) We don’t want to offend or contradict another’s previously held opinions, so we parrot what we believe will help us connect. We pander.
The result within our community is not the truth, but everyone’s polite interpretation of how they think they should play into others’ preconceptions. It becomes pathological, and it’s how we drink our own bathwater.
It’s a condition that is paralyzing. It prevents new ideas from taking root. It handcuffs line workers into performing the same tasks in the same way because “that’s the way it’s always been done.” It kills thought and turns humans into robots. Groupthink creates ignorant certainty—black-and-white delineations of the “right way” and the “wrong way.”
Last week, a client sent over an inline imaging self-mailer and provided gluing instructions. Knowing the client was sophisticated, customer service neglected to question or verify the directions.
An hour into the makeready, the sales rep saw the piece, questioned its design, and brought it to our postal liaison. It was incorrect—the job would not have qualified for automation discounts and it would have needed to be reprinted. Fortunately, someone lifted his head out of the bathwater long enough to recognize the problem before it became an even bigger one.