I recently watched a vintage Law and Order episode from its first season. I was struck at how different things are than it was when the series began. The officers had to find change to use a phone booth to call in! One of the items stolen was a new VCR. There was no GPS or computer in the squad car. 

It felt like I was watching a 1950s drama, but in reality it was from 1990. Maybe that was a long time ago, but it doesn’t seem like it to me!

I think about how Law and Order has survived for all of these years. An element of its genius is that each episode is self-contained. You don’t need to see them in order or to watch the whole series to be able to enjoy it. One episode, out of context, from 25 years ago, still provides for an enjoyable hour of entertainment. Yes, there is a common thread to the series, and more nuances that you would catch if you were a “regular”, but it can still deliver desirable viewing on its own.

Think about the products and services that your organization provides. Do you have to be an insider to truly benefit from them, or do your pieces stand alone? Have you removed most references that require explanation so people who are not familiar with you can understand what you offer? And yet, have you packaged your set of services in such a way that they are connected and your customers know there will be consistency from one to another, even if the plot line changes?

Law and Order can be a model for your organization’s offerings. Things switch out as the times evolve and even characters come and go, but in the end, they have a lock on continuity and mission integrity that is to be envied. 

beth triplett

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