I ordered new business cards 10 days ago, paying extra to ensure they would arrive in time for a conference I’m attending next week on Wed.
This morning (Friday) I received a call from a woman in Memphis saying she had received my business cards! I immediately called the printer, explained the situation and that I needed the cards by Tues. for the conference. The rep said their records showed my cards will be delivered later today. I said, great if they do, but what if I receive her order instead? The rep said he could see a image of the cards and they are mine.
I said, “Since your verification is virtual and hers in physical, all we know for sure is she received my cards. So what can be done if the cards I receive this afternoon are the wrong cards? Can you run my cards over the weekend?”
“Yes,” he said, “the presses run on the weekend.”
“Great. Then you could overnight them Monday to arrive on Tues.?”
“We don’t offer overnight delivery, just 3-day delivery with UPS.”
“What do you suggest?”
“I can reorder them with 3-day delivery. Sometimes they get there in 2 days, but I can’t guarantee that.”
In a calm voice, “Well, we know FedEx has overnight delivery. So we know it’s *possible* — it’s just not within your normal way of working with your shipper, UPS. Can I talk to a manager to see if they can arrange to have them sent FedEx overnight?”
The supervisor repeated what the rep said. I repeated what I said about knowing overnight is possible, just outside their normal way of working. I asked what she suggested and she said the same thing the rep said about reordering the cards but not guaranteeing they’d arrive in time. I asked, “Can you call the shipping manager to see if FedEx could pick it up on Monday, charged to your company’s FedEx account? [I thought, “Every big company has a FedEx account even if they use UPS for customer shipments}. I paid extra to have the cards arrive in time for the conference. I think you need to be creative in how you’ll get them to me on time.”
After 10 minutes on hold, she told me she’d talked to the shipping manager and they would send it tonight to arrive on Tues. I thanked her for being creative to find a solution.
Of course, she wasn’t creative — I was in giving her an option that she couldn’t think of herself because she was only thinking of what was possible within their normal range of working, not what was possible without those restrictions. I didn’t yell or berate her. I was calm and engaged her in finding a solution. She ultimately did, but I don’t think would have if I hadn’t prodded her to do so.
Do your people think beyond their self-defined restrictions to find a solution? Or are they stuck in the internally required parameters that prevent them from thinking creatively?