Let me just start this little diatribe by saying that I learned a great deal in business school. I learned that I probably made a smart decision by not going to law school. I learned that I can put my OCD tendencies to work to my benefit rather than my detriment. I learned to be more of an active listener (keep your comments to yourself Glenn, and for that matter, you too Ryan). I learned best practices and practical knowledge that I utilize on a daily basis. However, apparently I never learned the basics of elevator operation.
Elevator operation you say? What the hell does that have to do with anything? Operating an elevator is the simplest of tasks. Pick a floor, push a button and voila, you have successfully operated an elevator. So what does elevator operation have to do with anything? Well, let me tell you, or try to at least.
I ask for your patience as I try to paint as detailed a picture as I can for you. I do not possess the venerable Stephen King’s power of narration, so my depiction of today’s events that led to my writing this post may be lackluster, but I will give it a shot nonetheless. Notice that I did not use the word regardless in that last sentence. That was a conscious decision, one that was made so that I could express how irksome it is to me when people use the “word” irregardless. It is not a word. Do not use it. The word is regardless. Not irregardless. I am tired of correcting people when they use a word that is not a word. So stop doing it and I will stop having to look like a jerk when I correct you. If you are wrong, and I don’t correct you and I go on letting you continue to be wrong when you think that you are right, that makes me wrong by proxy and I just can’t have that. So stop using the non-word irregardless. Thank you in advance for your cooperation to my reasonable request. Ok, now back to the whole “paint me a picture of the situation Chris” thing.
These are elevators. No they are not the elevators in my office, but you get the idea. Images make this post more engaging, or so I have been told. Probably in business school, I think.
So, if any of you have been to my office – and many of you have – you know that, like any other moderately secure place of business, you need a key card to access any of the offices adjacent to the reception area. Without that key card, you can’t access the elevator or any of the doors leading to the stairs. So if you forget your key card, you have to wait for someone to exit the building or you have to call someone to come and let you in because the receptionists will not, under any circumstance, let you in (for security purposes of course).
I tell you this because this afternoon a co-worker of mine was returning from lunch as I was walking down the hall on the floor above him. He forgot his key card and he asked me, by yelling up to me one floor above him, to help him out. I didn’t have my key card on me and I was prepared to go back to my office to get mine for him when another co-worker of mine offered the even simpler solution of merely sending the elevator down one floor to him so he could get on it. And just like that, problem solved.
It was that interaction that led to a conversation a few minutes later between the three of us. As I sarcastically remarked “now that is something that they don’t teach you in business school,” I realized that the statement was actually spot-on accurate. They don’t teach you that in business school. In business school they would have encouraged us to assemble a committee to diagnose exactly what the problem was. Then – and only then – after an exhaustive problem-diagnosis session, would we be encouraged to assemble another committee to select the proper resources to develop a solution to the problem, devise a strategy to solve the problem, and then pass it on to another team to execute said strategy and then regroup afterward to discuss the KPI’s and metrics to judge the efficacy of our solution.
I took pause as I contemplated that fictional, but accurate, scenario and I wondered if I had wasted all that time and energy (and money) shaping my mind to be one of the great new leaders of the business world by earning an advanced degree in business. (Those aren’t my words but the words of some piece of marketing collateral material that promoted my business school that I am sure I was given). But just then I remembered the most important lesson that I ever learned in my pursuit of an MBA…that I am not always the smartest person in the room. The power of collaboration is that it brings together so many different points of view and different levels of knowledge on any one particular subject. In this case, my solution was to go get my key card which, while a perfectly suitable solution for my co-worker’s problem, it was not the simplest, nor the best, solution. It took my co-worker offering her solution to solve the problem with the most effective, resource-efficient method that served to strengthen the lesson that I am not always right and I am damn sure not always the smartest person in the room.
Lesson learned and reinforced and in case you are wondering, I still don’t understand how to operate an elevator and yes, I believe I will take the stairs.