Broken Windows Broken Business 

How the Smallest Remedies Reap the Biggest Rewards

By: Michael Levine

In 1982, an article with the title Broken Windows was published in Atlantic Monthly magazine. The article was focused on crime and law enforcement with the thesis that if small or petty crimes, such graffiti or broken windows are allowed to fester without repercussions, soon, larger more serious violations will stream from that neglect. But on the other hand, if a city is vigilant about policing smaller issues, and repairing broken windows it sends a signal of accountability.

Michael Levine takes this Broken Windows concept and applies it to operating a business. His premise is that the smallest area of neglect, such as dirty bathrooms or peeling paint, can create a perception of your business or product that can be very hard to overcome. He takes this principal down to the people we hire who then become the front door to our companies. He emphasizes not only paying attention to even the smallest physical details, but also the process of hiring and training of our people, so that our customers experience only a first-class enterprise. When “broken windows” are found in our company, we must act immediately to repair those because neglect can breed neglect. He discusses these issues signal an indifference to consumer satisfaction that repels customers. 

Drawing on real-world corporate examples, from JetBlue's decision to give fliers what they really want—leather seats, personal televisions, online ticketing - to Google's customer-based strategy for breaking out of the pack of Internet search engines, to business-to-business firms' successes and failures, Levine proves again and again how constant vigilance and an obsession with detail can make or break a business or a brand. 

It is so easy to get swept up in the big issues or our strategic plan that we can forget to pay attention to the ever present and very important details, dotting I’s and crossing T’s. Rest assured our clients and prospects see these details. What impression will they form about your business?