Last weekend Allison and I dined at The Egg & I for a breakfast. The restaurant was jammed pack, employees were rushing to flip tables, and customers were patiently waiting for their name to be called to be seated.

Our table was close to the kitchen so we were able to witness servers entering exiting the dining room. One observation was every time a server brought dishes into the kitchen they screamed, “Coming in!

Egg and I

This happened too many times to count. Imagine what would happen if the server didn’t say coming in or announce their entry. A collision of employees carrying scalding coffee could end up burning the skin, glasses shattering on the ground could pierce an employee’s skin or a freshly prepared entree is required to be remade.

Relying on screaming “Coming in!” is an adaptive solution to the problem. It merely allows the employee to quickly get by one more time. It doesn’t fix the problem so it doesn’t happen again.

How would you, the executive, fix the problem?

You could solve the problem by removing the cause of not being able to see.

In the mountains on windy roads you will see mirrors that show “what’s around the corner” so you can predict whether to slow down or stop. This simple solution corrects the problem of drivers not being able to see so drivers feel more safe rounding the turn.

My suggestion would be to put a convex mirrors at the top of the entry way so that servers can see in advance if someone is coming in or out which is a whole lot cheaper and convenient than tearing down the walls.

Final point

Before you run off to your next meeting, respond to your next email, or get caught up in the daily minutiae of problem solving understand:

  • Problem solving is a process, not an event.
  • You can solve a problem in a variety of ways depending on available resources, seriousness of the problem, and level of urgency.
  • You can anticipate problems by analyzing risk among alternatives.

One of my favorite quotes by Les Brown says,

“You can’t see the picture when you are in the frame.”

If you are too overwhelmed in the daily activities maybe its time to bring in some outside help.


View all posts

Add comment