Process versus Intended Outcome.

T_W_stewart_1893mopOne of the more peculiar things I have learned over the years is that when you mop, the intended outcome is a clean floor. As a young man, my father would always criticize the results of my mopping but never focused on the intended outcome, which confused me a bit.

He asked me to mop the floor, I mopped the floor, the floor had been mopped. What he might have said differently is that the floor needed to be cleaned, and the process was mopping after sweeping, but that’s a lot to unpack for a testosterone infused teenager.

It wasn’t until I was in the Navy that I unpacked all of that and translated that to a clean floor. Nobody cared if you mopped. The inspectors cared if the floor was clean. This small but relevant truth haunts the world everywhere.

Where I live, in a condo, where I was once even on the Board, the contract specifies that common areas in each floor be mopped. However, the idiots who built the place put in porous tiles, and the idiots presently running the residential board are absent (most don’t even live on the compound) have not cued in on the difference between tossing a mop around and moving dirt around and actually cleaning the floor.

‘Clean’ is subjective, of course, and problematic in contracts, so people just throw in ‘mop common areas in buildings on each floor’. The result is a clear sheen of dried oil on top of dirt ingrained in the tile which, as you can imagine, is pretty disgusting.

It ends up this problem isn’t just about floors. It ends up we see this every day where people meet the requirement of a contract or employment expectation, but not the spirit of it. What’s the point of paying people to mop floors if they aren’t clean afterwards? None. What’s the point of paying people to run a country when they don’t improve conditions in the country? Blue collar, white collar, government collar… it doesn’t matter.

In everything we do, the intended purpose should be more important than the process, and somehow that seems increasingly lost on people. At least to me.

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