Bump-Start for success!

Bump-Start for success!


Recently my colleagues and I met in readiness for presenting at a CIPD Learning and Development conference for Approved Centres in Manchester, UK.  Being the evening before a conference, we decided to go for a team meal together and booked a taxi to take us to the restaurant of our choice.

The taxi arrived, we got in and told the driver where we were heading.  That’s when the issue arose – it wouldn’t start, and the battery soon became exhausted. We could hear the driver speaking on his radio to his controller, who was checking for a replacement car, but to no avail.    We were faced with a dilemma – what to do.   Just like a failure of regular business supplier, or failure of another department providing us with a service, our natural instinct was to complain, wonder who’s ‘fault’ it was and seek an alternative service. But we were hungry, and given it was a peak time for taxi bookings, we realised that an different taxi firm wouldn’t be able to help either.

So, what alternatives did we have? We could have done without the service – but how many of us in business can decide to abandon a required service suddenly without due consideration?  As we were getting increasingly hungry, something had to happen soon – a “business imperative” if you like.   We considered changing our dinner plans, but should we allow a sudden and unexpected failure of a service provider to alter our vision, mission, aims or objectives? After all, we had chosen our restaurant for a reason!

One of the team suggested that instead of abandoning the provider, perhaps we should consider how we could assist instead. Solving the taxi driver’s problem would of course also help solve ours.  It was obvious, if we valued the service we wanted and we could support our provider, we would soon find mutual solution!  So ….. several colleagues jumped out of the taxi, and in the middle of a busy street in Manchester at a peak time, proceeded to push and successfully bump-start the taxi!

What was also so unusual and very gratifying was that a passing stranger joined the team pushing the taxi, melting into the background afterwards with no reward other than a simple thank you from our team of pushers!   We arrived at the restaurant slightly later than intended, but thoroughly enjoyed our meal together, reflecting joyfully on the approach we had taken and its effectiveness.

So…. what lessons can we draw from this when we hit a problem in our businesses with services or goods from our suppliers, other departments or contractors?

  • Firstly, the initial emotional response of ‘complain, cut and run’ is usually not the best answer
  • Looking for options is always a good approach, understanding and accepting that in business, not everything runs smoothly all the time
  • When looking at options, it’s often beneficial to consider some of the more unusual and uncharacteristic possibilities, including where necessary those that lead to rolling up the sleeves and getting involved in very detailed operational activity
  • Try to remember that all parties involved in a transaction want it to succeed, so mutual understanding, help and support will often give a positive outcome when there are problems (even if this is from unexpected ‘passers-by’ from other teams and departments!).

Why not try to ‘Bump-Start’ the problems you are encountering with your providers, suppliers and  colleagues, to gain a mutual beneficial solution?

push start

Professor Ian Favell
Ian is a Visiting Professor at Middlesex University and has been Chief External Verifier for CIPD for almost 20 years. As Principal Consultant for Assessor Training Ltd Ian is particularly interested in quality assurance, assessment and verification, training, learning and development, and the development and use of competencies and competency frameworks.
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