4 minutes

I was at the baker‘s again recently. In our town they are all pretty flabby (the rolls, not the bakers). So on Sunday mornings I like to cycle a longer distance to the next town and hunt for rolls. Besides, the local entertainment is remarkable. So here’s my latest experience…

As a bright guy, I ask my children (and my wife) beforehand what kind of rolls they would like. The usual response is a resounding: “Er, anything’ll do”, or “Chocolate croissant – yay, Daddy’s going to the bakery”. But OK, it’s Sunday, the kids can have something sweet for breakfast, and we can still torment them with vegetables for lunch.

So I arrive at the bakery 20 minutes later towards 8:15, refreshed and with a gently rumbling stomach, and only two people in front of me in the queue – yes, my timing was just right. While I am still content with myself, the tension is building in front of me:

Him: Two, you know, whatsits, what are they called?

Her: We don’t have those on Sundays, but the mumble-down-there are like them.

Him: No, my daughter doesn’t like those. Then 3 crusty rolls please.

Her: They’re not ready yet, They‘ll take another 4 minutes

Him: Bloody hell, one lot‘s not ready, the others you don’t have. What a f—ing lousy shop…

Having said so he moves off. She, slightly annoyed, empties the bag and serves me. I think to myself: “What a pity, no crusty rolls,” but I’ll keep the remark to myself. Let’s see – what else is there to choose from? The poor shop assistants have to put up with enough surly treatment.

Why am I telling this story? No, it’s not about anti-social behaviour, disrespect, good preparation or anything else –  although that’s also worth talking about – but what made an impression on me most was that you’re standing in front of a full counter with, in my view, enough choice and people are incapable of choosing from it. Reminds me a bit of Bernie’s story with the ice cream. But instead of just choosing and explaining it to your daughter, you go home without rolls? In a professional context, I think this is called stakeholder management.

Of course, you will say – in the last meeting my stakeholders also got up in a rage and left the room because they didn’t get what they wanted. I’m not talking about the whole range of stakeholder management here, but just one detail: Have we really forgotten how to deal with disappointments, unmet expectations and rejections? Or are we even incapable of waiting 4 minutes? Then there would even have been hot rolls….

To rounds things off: I didn’t wait 4 minutes either, I was starving. And there was plenty of choice, which filled my stomach just as well.

Original text: MHA
English translation: BCO

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