An elephant never forgets. We all know that saying. It implies, for some reason, that elephants possess some incredible long term memory. (Apparently though, there is some research backing this up).
There are also elephants at work. Which can be super awesome. Or sometimes quite dreadful.
On the plus side of the column there’s the “institutional knowledge” guy/gal. I can’t tell you how many times, upon joining a new organization, I’ve relied on the HR or Payroll lady who remembers (with amazing recall) the minutiae of an employee investigation that took place years before or can recollect, with incredible clarity, the ER/EE medical co-pay rates circa 2005.
But, more often than not, these pachydermian recollections are used for evil as opposed to good. Have you ever heard…
- “Susie is inflexible” (Because Susie didn’t want to change the office hours and start at 8:30 instead of 8:00 back in 1999)
- “Tom has a bad temper (That one time? He yelled at Stu in Receiving? Remember?)
- “Trixie provides really poor customer service” (OMG! In 2010 Mrs. Szymanski called and she was so pissed it went all the way up to the CEO at magical-corporate-office-in another-state!!)
Naturally, most of these stories are based on ancient information and, more often than not, very few data points. Any self respecting statistician who claimed to draw meaning from such lackluster numbers would be drummed out of business.
Trixie, (as just one example), in the course of her career with ACME Corp, may have dealt with 20,000 customers. But it’s the 5 (.00025% of customers) who asked to speak to a supervisor or, in 2018, left a comment on the company Facebook page, who have become those data points.
Of course, it’s today. We can use technology and gathering of e-scores to determine exactly what Trixie’s deal is. We do pulse surveys and NPS and whatnot. Can’t we?
But not all organizations have that technology at their disposal.
So the elephants are consulted
And they … never forget.