Weekends are good. And they never seem to be long enough. But I found myself in an interesting chain of events on Sunday morning. I left the house to get some Starbucks. At that point, it really was a need and not just a want. I headed to my normal shop, but was bothered by the long line. It has a really bad parking lot and at that point you couldn’t even get into the lot. So I decided to go down the street to just find the next one. It is Starbucks after all. There was bound to be another one in a few miles. And as I expected, they did not let me down. This detour took me to an area that I don’t normally go (as it is on the OTHER side of the highway). Not that it is a bad area. It’s actually quite nice…it’s just not in my normal traffic pattern.
It was interesting though because I had not been in that area for probably close to a year or so. I noticed all the new development they were having (of which Starbucks was one of). They have a new Sprouts Farmers Market (www.sprouts.com) that I was excited about. Again, this is only a few miles from my house, and on a direct path. Whereas the other closest Sprouts location is nowhere near convenient to me and way out of my normal path. I also found myself near a particular grocery store that carried an item that I really like. It had been recently introduced to me by a friend at a Book Club meeting, but again, that grocery store is not in any of my normal traffic patterns (and it is a store branded item) so I had not had the opportunity to have them again. HALLELUJAH! I could not pass up that opportunity! And let me just say that that grocery store has grown up! I was impressed with the offerings and the layout.
By now, I have had enough caffeine in me to be the nice and loving mother that my family knows (HA!) so I decided to pick them up some breakfast. I drove back into my town to go to my normal breakfast stop and was disappointed to discover yet another long and crazy line there. (It must have been the time change because normally people just aren’t out and about during this time!!) Because there is a line forming behind me and this has yet another bad parking lot, I decide to pull forward so that I could just go in to the establishment. Well, unfortunately this location has diverted the drive through traffic to COMPLETELY block off the entrance from dine-in customers that want to enter the lot from that entrance. So, I go around the building (muttering under my breath – ok, maybe out loud) and consider my options. I argue with myself that this is what happens when you don’t have a plan and that is why I always have a plan. I reluctantly decide to go to another establishment and call the family to see what they want. I placed my order and got distracted and missed my opportunity to pay at the screen. So when the team member brought me my food, I felt horrible, and apologized because I knew she would have to go back inside to process my payment. I also needed a drink carrier and some condiments and I just felt awful knowing that she was going to be frustrated. To my surprise, she was not bothered at all. She was happy to take care of the payment inside and get the other things I needed. She was just so pleasant that I was stunned.
I say all this because it made me think. How many times do we allow our normal “traffic patterns” dictate the people and places that we run into? I had absolutely NO intention of being gone that long or going to all those places. But for once, I understood that beauty of not having a plan and taking a detour. It allowed me to discover some new places and new people. I wonder if that is how it is in the business world. Is that what stifles innovation? Is that what decreases the size of the talent pool? Is that why results do not improve? Maybe we need to consider changing our traffic patterns…