The Toaster Effect

Saturday, my wife Mary returned from a shopping trip with a new toaster. When I saw it in her pile of newly purchased merchandise, I innocently asked, “Did our toaster break?”

“No,” she replied, “I just thought it was time for a change.”

I quickly did the math in my head, and replied, “Okay, sounds good.”

I came to the conclusion that there were two good reasons why her purchase garnered an almost “Yes, dear” reply:

 1. She has put up with me purchasing about every new piece of technology in the house when the obsolete device usually worked just fine, in her view. She didn’t say a thing when, in just a few years stretch, we went from a VCR to DVD to HD-DVD to Blu-Ray. She also hasn’t complained that we currently have four different cameras we use on a regular basis.

2. I didn’t know how old the toaster was, but I was pretty sure we might have received it as a wedding gift 16 years ago. I haven’t kept up with toaster technology, but I would suspect, in that timeframe, someone has dreamed up some new features.

Later that day, I wandered over and took a look at the fancy new toaster she had purchased. It was stainless steel, which matched all of our appliances. The old toaster was white and matched the appliances in our old kitchen. The old toaster also had a single dial on it that only set the darkness of the toast.

The new toaster had buttons for different things that could be toasted, like bagels, frozen waffles, and of course, toast. I was pleased with the new purchase and glad she was the one who must have fretted over all of the different models at the store. The new toaster was a welcome new addition to our household.

That was, until the next day.

Early the next morning, my 8-year-old son, Ethan, came bursting into our bedroom, almost crying in frustration. “Mom, the new toaster doesn’t work. I want the old toaster back!” he yelled. “It burned one half of my bagel and hardly toasted the other side!”

Since it was Mary’s new gadget that was causing the issue, she accepted the responsibility of dealing with the situation. She got up, went downstairs, calmed Ethan down and explained to him how the new toaster worked. He now needed to choose the “Bagel” setting and face the bagel halves inward, so they are toasted properly.

Many times, in the day-to-day operation of our businesses, we get used to the old white toaster and do not know what newer, better technologies exist to get our jobs done. Look around your business and identify what old white toasters you have holding you back.

When you do replace that white toaster, get someone in the company to be the champion for the new solution, and make sure that all of the end-users are properly informed and trained, or else you may get a rude wake-up call from a distraught user.

Oh, and don’t argue with your spouse about trivial things like toasters.

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