Thinking TOO much out of the box!
A prominent businessman went shoe shopping at a local store. After selecting a pair of shoes of size 8, he asked the new saleswoman to pack it. However, he soon realized that he had left his wallet back home. So, he told the saleswoman that he would take the shoes and make the payment the next day.
Although the saleswoman could gauge the credibility of the businessman, she was reluctant to deliver the shoes without payment. At the same time, she was also not ready to lose a sale. So, she stood there frozen for a few minutes unable to decide. She then went back into the storage room, packed the shoes, and then handed the box to the customer.
The next day, the customer arrived at the store with the shoes he had purchased, and while making the payment for it, enquired to the saleswoman, “After opening the box I found one shoe of size 8 and the other of size 7. Maybe you packed them by mistake? Could I get shoes of size 8, please?”
Great outcome, isn’t it? Neither did they lose the customer nor the sale. Expectedly, the ‘thinking-out-of-the-shoe-box’ saleswoman gets a promotion!
Good story, but an uninspiring ending. Why?
Let’s change focus from the saleswoman and point it towards the customer for a different perspective. We get two scenarios—either he was ethical or unethical.
- If he was ethical, he would have come back to pay/exchange, regardless of the shoes being the same or of the different size.
- If he was a fraud, unintending to pay, it is highly unlikely that he would have bothered to come back and return the mismatched shoes.
Clearly, the saleswoman’s actions doubled the risk (losing two pairs of shoes) against the same returns (sale of one pair). Yet, she is rewarded because the store manager is blinded by the positive outcome.
This is a common blind spot that many institutions experience. Most tend to easily believe the outcome without paying attention to the steps that led to the outcome.
A mature organization is one, which forever champions the value of right approaches, regardless of the results!