I think most of you would agree that there’s an enormous difference between trying to prevent something from happening versus waiting until it does happen and trying to detect its presence. In most companies these days, effective quality systems have been put in place in the name of prevention, while detection system have taken more of a back seat and for good reason. In today’s posting I want to share a personal experience that I had last week and tie in the difference between prevention and detection. This posting won’t be a long, drawn-out one, but I hope you enjoy it.
Most of my weeks are spent out on the road on consulting assignments which means I’m not at home as often as I’d like to be. Because I travel so much, I don’t get to interact with the seemingly endless array of contractors, salesmen (and saleswomen), etc. who come to our home. My poor wife has to deal with them. Last week was one of those off-weeks where I was at home and I totally enjoyed it. We have hired some of the contractors who have “invaded” our home and one of them was a company who sprays for “bugs” and termites. Actually our termite guy doesn’t spray, he just comes by every so often and “inspects” the termite traps, I guess he’s looking in the traps, which contain wood, to see if any of the wood has been eaten. I guess this guy relies on detection to make his money. If he sees that wood has been eaten, then I guess he knows that termites are in the area. This seems like something I could do, but my wife insists on having this company do it.
The bug man, on the other hand, sprays outside and inside our home, so he definitely is in the prevention camp. We rarely, if ever, see live insects in our house unless they flew in when we left a door open, so his work is very effective…..or at least it was…. When he was here spraying outside I saw him and asked him when he was coming to spray the inside. He told me that they’ve changed their policy to only spray inside when we see bugs inside of our house. I told him I didn’t want to wait for bugs to appear before they sprayed. I told him I believed in prevention rather than detection. He said he did too, but that was the new policy so he had to follow it.
I called our contractor and expressed my displeasure in the new policy and that we had selected them to prevent insects and not to spray them after they appeared. I went on to explain the difference between prevention and detection, but he didn’t want to hear it until I told him not to come back and that we would be hiring a new bug company. So you see, even in your personal life prevention versus detection has to be considered.