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When I was in the Hospitality Tourism Masters program at SDSU, my first idea for a capstone project…sucked. The program director told me it was bullshit (he hates when I tell that true story). I am thankful that he did because it may have led me down a road to a mediocre (sucky) project.

After finally figuring out what the project would be, things started to come together. My team at the hotel was helping develop it. We were on a roll. Then…we hit a wall. We ran out of material. We felt like maybe we had done everything we could. There was nothing left to add. Maybe it was time to wrap it up.

I told one of my professors that I felt like the framework was awesome but that there was more. I actually asked her to tell me it sucked. It was a strange request. We got together and she said “This sucks”. She followed that up by challenging me to find that something more. She didn’t have the answer but she did challenge me to think differently. For the next couple of days, I reviewed notes and material about the project and found something staring me in the face. It turned out to be a real game-changer.

The project was such a success that it is now offered to 650 other locations and was featured in a prominent lodging magazine.

I have thanked both Carl Winston and Lori Sipe for telling me things sucked.

In this environment where everyone gets a ribbon/trophy/medal/certificate, sometimes we just need to say “that sucks”.

Sometimes, it’s OK to say things suck.

Sometimes we need:
– to hear it sucks from someone else.
– an extra kick to that project and make it not suck.
– to ask to hear about what sucks.
– to hear that our process to handle ____________ sucks (and it always has sucked).

Don’t wait for:
– annual performance reviews.
– new product launches.
– general surveys.
– someone biased in your favor (because they don’t want to hurt your feelings).

Just when we think we are done, we need to tell ourselves that our work sucks again and add even more.

Once we get over the initial fear of saying it to someone, it can be incredibly liberating. It can start a conversation on the path to not sucking.

Someone will undoubtedly comment “that sucks” isn’t very nice/professional/appropriate. It isn’t about the person, it’s about the thing. Obviously, use it in the right environment with the right people. Feel free to substitute your own words but know that the more we soften the message, the less effect on change. Maybe challenge your co-workers to find something that sucks about your work and tell you that it sucks. It’s a place to start.

There are some inspirational quotes from Steve Jobs. Often in the process of developing something new, he would just say “that sucks”. Sometimes, in much harsher words. While this was frustrating for some, it pushed the teams to give it more thought and effort.

Have the courage to say “that sucks” the next time you have the opportunity. Have the courage to find that little something extra that makes it great (less sucky).

Maybe this or one of my prior posts have sucked. Tell me!

Comments, likes, shares are greatly appreciated.

Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.