Last week I visited an osteopath having suffered from niggling lower back pain that had been grumbling for a period of time. Having had the usual physiotherapy treatments following a few clumsy injuries, I expected to be given the familiar prescription of specific exercises. Instead I was a bit surprised to be asked to crawl, yes crawl forwards and backwards, opposite arms and legs which sounds easy and it is, until you overthink it and it becomes complicated!
Somewhat sceptical I wondered was this just another fad, until the osteopath explained exactly what she had found in her diagnosis of my skeletal function, and why crawling was the way forward. When we crawl as babies we build up a competency that ties everything about us together. In developing children, crawling activates and integrates the different parts of the brain. Through crawling, neural connections and pathways are established that allow the brain to become more efficient at communication between the left and right hemispheres. The better the brain can communicate and process information, the better the body moves.
As adults, we accumulate injuries, wear inappropriate footwear, sit too long, carry heavy bags on shoulders, don't allow injuries time to heal (yours truly) the list goes on. In other words, we can lose the ability to perform basic functions like walking well resulting in niggling pains.
Crawling like a baby resets things - in essence helping to restore original core function; honestly having tried it for a couple of weeks I am a fan. Admittedly this new found exercise takes a bit of explaining to family and friends (not to mention the dog!) but admitting you are on the wrong track and starting again is often a dint to one’s ego. In our working lives we often add layers of complexity and the core purpose of what we are setting out to do can become blurred.
Take an organisation’s customer experience offering - the temptation is to become distracted with shiny new toys like apps before the core hygiene factors of consistently delivering effective service levels and keeping promises are not firmly embedded. The pace of change means that it's tempting to forego these commitments and focus on the new latest gizmos guaranteed to wow.
Last weekend I was travelling back from Lyon where I had left my younger son for his Erasmus year studying at Lyon University. I received a text in the morning telling me that my flight was delayed; I wasn't unduly concerned thinking I could spend an extra few hours however the instruction was to turn up on time as the check-in gate rules still applied. The flight tracker told me that the delay was due to a delay at Manchester. Having checked that particular flight, I knew it would be a 2-hour delay. I spent my last few hours trying to find out more, phone calls were futile no doubt others had the same idea. The tracker was updated on the app, still the same delay but the same check in.
On arrival, there were no staff to enlighten us just a screen with "wait for more information”. I'm a fan of providing as much information as possible, however in this instance it was useless. I couldn't change anything or amend ongoing travel plans at the other end, there was so much uncertainty. I envied those who had arrived without the notification, at least they had enjoyed the last few hours in blissful ignorance and in fact were no more disadvantaged than well informed me.
There are numerous examples of 'assistance but not actual help' initiatives in all sectors offering options and information but not as useful as they might be. IVR menus offering a long list of marketing messages rather than addressing the common reasons a customer might be getting in touch cause real frustration; a perfect example of complexity creeping in and masking the real purpose of the service in the first place, which is to serve. So maybe every so often we need to press reset and see if the core purpose of our service is central and commonly understood by all, if not I suggest we practice crawling to help get back on track!