Cookie cutters are a great invention. Anyone can express their creativity in the kitchen with a cut out for any shape. You can honor every holiday, a birthday, a graduation, a new house, or tell someone you love them simply by pressing that special cookie cutter into some dough and then decorating it so that it is just the way YOU want it to be. But cookie cutters are best left in the kitchen.
People are not cookie dough, although their personalities can be sticky at times and things can get messy. Employees can not be duplicated to perform the same. Students will not all learn in similar ways. A lot of 'things' can be mass produced in a factory on a conveyor belt and they will appear to be the same, but people are different. People are unique. We look different, we behave and react different, and we process everything differently. A factory can create a product where the outcome will basically be the same because there are NO variations, but service-related industries will never have the same result. Why? Because people are directly involved. Sure, a company can have a goal of how their customer service should perform, but there are too many unknown factors. The customer may have had a bad experience with the company. The customer service rep may not be fully knowledgeable of the company's product or service and unknowingly give the customer the wrong information.
This week I attended a college lecture given by Henry Winkler (actor, writer, producer, etc., but best known to many as 'The Fonz' from the TV show 'Happy Days'). It was an interesting lecture with many great insights. He talked about his career, about his family, about his struggles with dyslexia, and his personal experiences with learning. Everyone has issues and things they must overcome in their lives, but he didn't discover his dyslexia til he was in his early 30s. Until then he was told constantly that he was dumb, he was stupid, he was lazy, and he would never amount to anything. His teachers couldn't (or didn't) help him; neither did his parents. But he didn't give up. He had dreams and goals and was determined to find a way to achieve them. He talked about today's education and the need and importance to try and reach each student where they are.
We've all known that student (perhaps we were that student) who tried and tried and tried to get through a particular subject at school, but found themselves struggling. I am certainly not going to blame the teachers, but believe it or not even teachers are human. As with any profession, some teachers are great and some are not. Today's schools have limitations though, as do many areas of life (businesses included). It is easy to understand why in a classroom of 30+ students some will be at the top of the learning curve and some will be at the bottom AND some will get lost in the middle. It is frustrating for any human being though, whether they are a young student in the classroom or an adult working at their job, to feel overwhelmed because they are yearning to learn and do a great job, but the system seems to be fighting them.
People cannot be treated like a product created by a shiny silver cookie cutter. We will never be perfect, nor will we be identical. We will all have our flaws, but if given some personal attention we will thrive. My advice? Leave the cookie cutters in the kitchen and save them for when you're feeling creative and want to impress someone. For everything else, stop and listen to what people are REALLY trying to say and perhaps assist them in getting to where they are trying to go.