A few months back, I went with a group of people (60 or so) to a wonderful ropes course in Victoria, BC (blog post here). We all took buses from the hotel to the ropes course. In our package deal, we were promised a box lunch when we got back on the bus.
After four hours in the ropes course, we were ALL hungry and ready for that lunch! We got back to where the bus was supposed to meet us and there was no bus. My spidey senses kicked in and I suggested that we call to see where the bus was. But the organizer of the group talked me out of calling. We waited 20 minutes until I could take it no more and I begged the organizer of the group to phone for the bus. There was no answer. We waited another 10 minutes. It was cold. We were hungry. And there was no bus.
We couldn’t get a hold of the bus company so I phoned the hotel, talked to the manager and asked him to look into the situation. He phoned back and said that the buses had quit for the day and had left us stranded. This is where it gets interesting. The owner of the bus company drove in his personal vehicle to tell us why they weren’t picking us up. It turns out that they were contracted for 3 round trips to bring our group to the ropes course and bring us back. And they did three round trips. They actually went above and beyond and did four round trips.
Only, the return trips were all empty. They ran empty buses. And when they had fulfilled their contractual obligation, they quit. Sure, they had 27 extra lunches left over and yeah, they hadn’t actually picked us all up but hey, their contractual obligation was filled. They were done. The contract didn’t specify that they had to pick up everyone – just that they had to do the trips. They went through the motions but didn’t succeed at their mission: to safely carry our group to and from the hotel to the ropes course and back.
We all eventually got back to the hotel in time to catch our ferry back home but the lesson learned for me is life changing. Measuring the right things changes the entire picture. The bus driver measured one thing (trips) when what really mattered was another thing (people).
Where in life are you measuring the wrong things? Where are you counting the trips when you should be counting the people?