I was on a BA flight returning from the incredible World Business Forum recently, and got chatting to the cabin crew. I had taken this photo above, whilst in New York. If you look, you can spot Concorde nestled in the bottom left-hand corner, it had caught my eye with its elegant, iconic shape. The brilliant story that followed from taking this picture is worth sharing.
The Cabin Director told me about one of her colleagues who flew on transatlantic Concorde flights back in the 80s. Nothing extraordinary initially.
However, the colleague of hers – who lived close to Heathrow – used to drop off her kids at school, take the Heathrow to New York red eye, then the returning flight, and still be back in time to collect her kids from school. All in a day’s work eh?
Back before the beautiful Concorde was retired in 2003, a London to New York flight took a record two hours and 52 minutes. So, it was perfectly possible for a working mum and member of the flight crew to achieve what might, at first thought, appear completely impossible.
This brief conversation really got me thinking, and asking questions about the power of considering more impossible options in life and business – more often. They’re good fun after all, and I enjoy asking them.
We automatically make assumptions every day, and there’s a bundle of expectations, mindsets, values and behaviours all wrapped up in these assumptions. I’d heard about “arriving before you took off” due to the speed and time difference with Concorde, but never something as seemingly daft as there and back in school hours. It only took a moment to deconstruct and reframe my view. What else could I apply this to I wondered?
On the subject of deconstruction, the above picture is of a ‘deconstructed peanut butter cheesecake’ dessert I enjoyed recently – rich, but delicious. Completely gratuitous mention of deconstruction I grant you, yet a popular new way of presenting desserts. Nom nom. And therefore, another inspiration for considering the unconsiderable.
Which leads me back to the World Business Forum, where I was fortunate enough to catch the superb Sir Ken Robinson speaking.
Sir Ken, author of the fascinating ‘Out of our Minds‘ book, touched on an interesting – and for some unconsiderable – proposition, that creativity “is just a process that can be learned” rather than an innate quality some are born with.
He highlighted a two-minute clip to demonstrate his point at the Forum, using an experiment with a group of schoolchildren.
The two-minute clip is absolutely incredible – watch it here.
I’ve had countless examples of where getting clients to deconstruct their assumptions and preconceptions and embrace the impossible has delivered surprising results. It’s part of Spring’s USP and brand. Still, it’s about sharpening the saw – as good old Stephen Covey might say. Relentlessly looking out for ways to learn, improve and view the world through fresh eyes.
Recently, we asked a retail customer service team to count the number of customers with brown eyes coming into their stores for one hour. This forced them to improve eye contact, which in turn meant that customers magically asked more questions because perhaps they felt more acknowledged, which meant conversations increased and engagement went up.
The result? Customers had a better experience and sales increased by 40% for the rest of the week – not just the hour. The brown eyes exercise was simply a process goal to shift performance. Despite the business having customer service metrics, mystery shopping criteria, and customer service models coming out of their ears that dictated what the teams should do, including eye contact – it took this simple, fresh, deconstruction of what they really needed to do differently to make the difference.
Sometimes, challenging the rules and what we’re taught to believe can bring about seemingly impossible results.
Are you considering the unconsiderable regularly enough? I’ve resolved to do it more often myself.