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There Are None So Blind November 12, 2008

Posted by Chuck Musciano in Leadership.
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Sometimes the hardest part of solving a problem is getting the user to see your solution.

Many years ago, when I lived in Florida, a new mom-and-pop video store opened nearby.  This was before the consolidation by big chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video, and little video stores were fairly commonplace.

Their inventory management system was simple: when you rented a movie, they wrote out a receipt on three-part NCR paper.  One copy was your receipt, one copy was their receipt, and a third copy went into the “out on rental” stack.  This stack was used to account for movies as they were returned.

The first time I returned a movie, the girl behind the counter walked over to the rental stack and began to flip through the stack of slips.  After a long while, she located my rental slip and marked my movie as having been returned.

Always alert to process improvement opportunities (even then!), I was compelled to offer a better solution.

“You know, if you alphabetize that stack of rental slips, you’ll be able to find a customer’s slip much faster when they return their movie.”

She looked up at me, and then back at the slips.  She thought a bit, looked back at me, and replied, “But the customers don’t come in the store in alphabetical order.”

No.  No they don’t.

I didn’t say anything else.  There wasn’t much else to be said.