It just so happens that this is the right time to give my 14-year-old son the “last 10% speech.”  Anyone who’s been around a young teenager knows, they simply don’t understand what it means to get something done…completely done, leaving no strings, or mess left over. As your children learn to be responsible, and even begin to do their chores, and even help others (wow!), there is still one last instruction to give.

It is that no matter how much the 14-year-old thinks he has done, what matters is that he has finished the job.  Or better yet, that he has solved or performed a task to his parent’s liking. The only thing parents see is the last 10 percent of the effort.  For example, he may have gotten his own juice glass then the juice from the refrigerator, poured it, drank it, returned the juice to the fridge, and walked away, quite proud of himself.  The parent sees the glass left on the counter.  Just a few years ago, we’d have been proud of the accomplishment of self-service, but now it’s the last 10 percent that’s missing – put the glass in the dishwasher.

I’m blessed to have a great job where I can participate across several division or departmental projects.  The common element of my cross-business unit work is the ability to provide projects some small element which is needed to move it towards sales.  This small element has been along all stages, from an idea which can start a project, to a customer contact, to a production trial.  Cross-business unit efforts should not be a burden; it is by definition, a breakthrough, some added value which makes our progress toward innovation and sales revenue easier.  Remember that 90 percent of the project and resources are already there!  Each of our businesses has talented sales, marketing, production, technical and supply chain folks ready to do their jobs.  This is the basis for any of our cross-business unit projects; if one person can add that last 10 percent, we need to get 100 percent of our value then it is worth our effort.

Customers see Celanese products the way a parent sees things.  Even though we may have done a lot of work and spent years perfecting an engineered resin, talked about it internally, and had consultants provide years of experience to a new product, none of it matters until the customer deems it valuable — all of it, not just 90 percent of the value, but 100 percent.

The successful teams I work with across Celanese are focused on making that customer satisfied.  Knowing this may mean accepting help from a “new guy” or doing things a little different.  It’s not enough to send average products to customers. Worthy collaboration includes teams who are happy to take whatever input they get to help Celanese finish the job right. Celebrating valuable input, no matter where it comes from, and truly taking joy in making our customers happy.

It’s a great feeling when a parent commends their maturing child with “job well done.” We collaborate at Celanese across businesses to hear a customer tell us: “Thanks, now let’s talk about this other problem we’re trying to solve. I think you guys can help me.”

While the last 10 percent of any job is the hardest part, it also leads to the greatest satisfaction.  I continue to look forward to getting it done right – together!