That isn’t fair!
How many times have we heard children cry indigently, “That isn’t fair!”?
That’s how I felt about the 4th of July boat parade on Gilmore Lake.
For nearly a year we’d been planning what our float would look like. My sister-in-law came up with the perfect idea and began amassing supplies. Hours of labor went into measuring, cutting and painting. Headlights, tail lights, vanity license plates and a grill were created. When we were done my brother’s pontoon was transformed into a 1957 Chevy. It even had the distinctive tail fins that made the car so cool.
Dice swung gracefully in the breeze as we maneuvered around the lake. People watching the parade from their docks took our picture, waved, and gave us a thumbs up. They loved us. We grinned and waved back from the deck of our ’57 Chevy. It was a perfect day to capture the first place prize.
Except we didn’t.
A couple months earlier someone at the lake association decided there should be a theme for the 2015 boat parade; that theme would be Jamaica.
At that point we were so much in love with our plan (and had a cardboard mountain to prove it) that we didn’t want to change. We would stick to our original plan and it would be so unique and so amazing that even though it wouldn’t conform to the theme, we would win anyway.
Except we didn’t.
Business can be like that. You come up with a great plan that is guaranteed (in your mind) to bring in more business. Machines are purchased, walls are moved and processes are developed.
Then the customer tells you what she wants and that what you created isn’t what she had in mind. Or in the middle of a project, plans change and all the work you’ve done has to be scrapped. What do you do?
We were so in love with our ’57 Chevy idea that when the rules changed, we didn’t want to. We stayed with our original idea thinking it was so wonderful the judges would make an exception and give us the prize.
For us, there’s always next year’s boat parade, but business is more complicated. You have to play by the customers’ rules.
A good principle to follow when dealing with rules is to keep your ear to the ground, be open to new ideas and adapt when necessary.