Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Debriefing Success

When I got to the WheelTrans bus this morning it was pretty full. The two front spaces were taken and, as a result, I was strapped in in the middle, in the back. I don't like it here a lot for two reasons. First, it seems that I'm slanted back slightly due to the ramp. Second, when the bus hits a bump, I take air - disconcerting thing for someone who really feels the pull of gravity. Even so, I am appreciative of the ride and the service - and, besides, sitting in the middle, I get the rare opportunity to see out the front window.

The driver took us on a new route to me. This guy knew the city. We got to Bathurst street on a route I've never travelled before, it was quick, it was scenic, I enjoyed seeing a different part of the city. We dropped the two other folks off at a hospital, they said, goodbye to him, then me, and were gone. I saw the driver go to the door, hold it open for them, and then come back to the bus.

I was surprised when he got back on the bus instead of just folding up the ramp and going round to the driver's seat. He asked me if I'd like to be unstrapped and move to a front seat location, he wondered if that would be more comfortable for me.

I was flabbergasted.

How awesome is that?

I considered for a moment all the effort that would go into unstrapping me and then moving me only to strap me in again. I said, "No, thanks, I'm good, I'll just stay here."

He smiled and said, "Great," adding, "you are next to be dropped off."

When he got back in, I thanked him for offering to move me. He shrugged off the thanks with a, "no problem."

All the rest of the way I thought about this guy. I thought about what he did. The fact that he was willing to put the extra effort simply to make me more comfortable was astonishing. I didn't expect it. I wouldn't have been upset if he hadn't offered. He did it just, simply, because he could. I realized when he got me to work that we were a bit ahead of schedule so he had time, he chose to offer that time to me. How great is that?

When these things happen, I try to really learn from them. I know, even writing here on the blog that a post which points out something wrong gets way more response than one that points out something right - but the older I get the more I realize that I learn more from the moments that go well. It's here where I need to debrief the situation and see what it was that made the moment a good one - that's a question that matters.

Most organizations I work with, or consult to, often debrief only situations which went pear shaped - and almost never debrief situations of success. I believe that this turns us all negative and while we learn from our mistakes, we can equally learn (and be inspired) by our successes.

So this guy, he taught me something about service.

That lesson is mine - I'll let your lesson be yours.


Anonymous said...

Small victory indeed. (It is interesting that you seem to have no problem thanking people for things for which you didn't have to ask for.) The driver may have shrugged off his kudos - but I'm sure he still appreciated being acknowleged.

Baba Yaga said...

To me, the striking thing about that isn't so much that the driver offered, it's that he perceived that there was something to offer.

I think people generally do like to be able to do small kindnesses for others, when they're not so harried that any 'extra' is burdensome (which for some people is a mindset, admittedly); but the baseline awareness of others' comfort isn't universal. I have horrible holes in awareness, when it comes to that.

If I'm having the niblings do some small service, I'll often ask them "could you do me a kindness...?" It's largely turn of phrase, but I've noticed that they like being asked that way, and do what's asked with a little more alacrity when I do.

Louna said...

That the driver thought of offering you another spot, and did so, is great. And yes, it is important to report both on success and on failure. In that respect, the world I'm entering tends to be the opposite from yours: in academics, we report only our successes. Are we doomed to constantly repeat the same mistakes?

joanne said...

always good to hear the positive side of things...I know how much labour is involved in securing that definitely was a labour of love. Have a super day!

Tamara said...

Nice driver. Seems like you often have some good posts about WheelTrans, though, don't you? Do they have some great training program or do they just hire good people? What's their secret?

I was thinking about our bus system - which I haven't taken for quite some time with any frequency, at least. I don't know if we have a bus just for people with disabilities. Do your "regular" buses have wheelchair lifts? Or if you use a wheelchair do you have to use WheelTrans or is it just a better option? Just curious. Our buses have wheelchair lifts, but years ago when I rode the bus regularly, they didn't work very well.

Anonymous said...

Hold on Anonymous, I don't know how people have gotten the impression that Dave doesn't say "thank you" or use manners. I've worked with Dave for a long time and have occassionally gone out for lunch with him, he is charming and gracious to staff. He always says both "please" and "thank you" to staff. I think that by Dave being open here on the blog about some internal struggles about having to thank people for things that others take for granted you, and other readers, may have the wrong impression of him and the way he carries himself publically. I hope you, Dave, don't mind, but that comment struck me as unfair.

Kristine said...

I LOVE this post. It seems like in a work environment, the positives are often mentioned quickly and in passing, then the bulk of time and attention is given to the negatives. If the goal is improvement, that seems logical and intuitive. But there's something to be said for "debriefing success." Instead of focusing on problems and reinventing the wheel to come up with solutions, I think that you're right, we need to spend more time analyzing our successes and determining why they were successful. That gives us the ability to duplicate the success later, and apply the same principles to other situations. It's something I should probably work on personally. Instead of focusing solely on what I want to do better, I should think about what I do well, and how I can use those strengths to buoy my weaknesses.

Anonymous said...

My complaints about med errors at work led my son to ask, well, you debrief errors but do you brief the med pass?