Quality #8: Creativity

    Quote from Forbes Article:

    Some decisions will not always be so clear-cut. You may be forced at times to deviate from your set course and make an on the fly decision. This is where your creativity will prove to be vital. It is during these critical situations that your team will look to you for guidance and you may be forced to make a quick decision. As a leader, its important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Don’t immediately choose the first or easiest possibility; sometimes its best to give these issues some thought, and even turn to your team for guidance. By utilizing all possible options before making a rash decision, you can typically reach the end conclusion you were aiming for.

    What an interesting statement is our key phrase: It’s important to learn to think outside the box and to choose which of two bad choices is the best option. Many times, people think that creative problem solving is about picking the RIGHT answer. But this statement shows a great deal of wisdom in realizing that often, the two choices in front of you may BOTH be bad. This puts the decision-maker into a totally different frame of mind. Instead of trying to find the elusive, impossible correct choice, he or she now knows that they are both bad choices. One may be a bit better, and the other a bit worse, but because they’re both bad, you don’t have to worry about finding the right one. Just choose the one that – on a gut feel – seems to be best, and then work hard to try and make the best of it. I love this attitude! It focuses less on being right, and more on just getting the job done… a perfect mentality when making on-the-fly decisions in out-of-the-box situations.

    A few years ago, we had a client who ordered 1,200 small bowls. They were not a usual stock item, so we had to special order it from the place she found it at: Pier One Imports. I went to a local Pier One, paid for the whole order, and was assured that the items would arrive the week of our event. Perfect. Fast forward to the week of the event. I call the store to ask when I could pick it up. This is a Monday. The event is on Thursday. They tell me that they don’t have the order in and won’t actually get it until the following week. TOO LATE! I begin to go to plan B, which is panic mode. We don’t have a viable option here on the table. Client had made it perfectly clear that the product MUST be 4oz Square Bowls! Pier One was unable to assist. We even offered to fly a person up to San Antonio to their distribution center to get a load onto a plane, but no, the distribution center couldn’t release product to customers. So… time to get creative. My wife called her Aunt, who agreed to drive to EVERY SINGLE Pier One retail store from Santa Barbara down to San Diego buying 17 here and 125 there, until we made the count. That took her most of the two days we had left, until Wednesday evening, when she could send them out UPS overnight to arrive on Thursday morning. It was expensive, and certainly not an experience I’d EVER want to repeat, but it was a creative solution to keep our client happy. And they are still our client to this day.

    That was certainly a bad option among multiple bad options. It was expensive and stressful. But at the end of the day, it was probably the best bad choice out of all of them, and it got the job done.