We always try to start our management meetings with a good story or two. It gets everything off to a nice start before we get into the inevitable not so good things that crop up. Some of us can always find something to say. Sometimes it is relevant and sometimes it’s not. Sometimes it helps and at other times it doesn’t. Some of us take a bit more time to come up with their tale yet they can be just as well worth waiting for as any other.
The most memorable story for me this week has come from Bob. It is not directly related to the work that we do yet it has great relevance to the kind of place we are trying to get to. It has stuck in my mind and it is about a well-known fast-food outlet.
So, Bob’s son works in one of the outlets of this highly recognisable brand. His job, if I remember it rightly is to take the orders from the drive-in queue and enter them into the system so that they can be fulfilled. You need to keep this in mind.
Anyway, Bob and his son are having a chat and the subject got round to work and how things are changing in that there is much more agile working and many more people are able to work from home these days. Clearly his son was listening, which is perhaps a story in itself and started to think about his own job.
At work nobody sees him. He is just a voice on the end of a microphone and speaker. The customers tell him what they want and he taps this in to the computer. Someone else takes their money from the first hatch and someone else serves them the food as they move along the queue. He is invisible to the customer.
Well, if the customer can’t see him then why does he need to be there? If his work involves entering data into a computer could this not be done from anywhere? This could be an ideal homeworking application with the operator connected back to the organisation’s systems across the web. It all sounds like a nice piece of thinking.
Bob’s son, who by this point was highly enthused, took his idea into work and told his manager about what could be done. He told him how others handled the money and served up the food. He told him how he was invisible to the customers and how he could do this job from anywhere as long as he had the right access to the systems. He told him how this approach could transform the way that he and the company worked.
His manager listened to what he had to say and said ‘That’s all very interesting, now get back to work!’
Ah well, the end was a bit of a shame and takes the gloss off the story to an extent. When Bob was telling us about it we were all rooting for his son to come through and win the day but it was not to be.
Yet that is not the point. The story will be chipping away in the manager’s mind and you never know. One day!