By that time I received the announcement that “non-essential state employees did not need to report for work until 10 a.m.,” I had already scraped my car windows to rid them of the 3” of ice and 5” of snow that had accumulated on them overnight, dug a path for my wheels to use as an exit route from the mounds of snow that held them captive, and was seated with coffee in hand listening to the news reporter tell me the County was in a Level 2 snow emergency. For common understanding, that means that one should not be on the roads unless it is an emergency.
Two thoughts bombarded my brain at the same time:
- Did the reporter just tell me I am not essential?
- Is my work really an emergency?
At the time, I was working for the State of Ohio’s Department of Education, and on that snowing Wednesday morning, I came to understand I indeed was NON-ESSENTIAL. Furthermore, my work, which at the time focused on developing and implementing strategies to support the improvement of Ohio’s education system, was NOT an emergency.
Surprising, right? Improving education is not an emergency? Really? How can that be? It turns out that in a snow storm, they didn’t need me, and my work was not critical to keeping the State of Ohio safe and operational.
Even after all these years, every time I see snow or hear we might get significant accumulation, I think back on this experience – that is, after I pick up my bruised ego from the floor. I learned a lot that day about business. Here are a few questions for you to ponder, based upon my learning that day:
- When times are their toughest for your customers, what do they need?
- Do you supply what they need?
- Are you essential or non-essential to your customers?
- Would the absence of your products and services be so devastating to your customers they would designate your service delivery as an emergency need?
- What strategies do you have in place to keep current on your customers’ changing needs and expectations?
- If you’re not already, what is your plan to become essential and an emergency to your customers?
I look forward to reading your thoughts, ideas and strategies below in the comments.
PHOTO COURTESY OF: Flickr Creative Commons Birdies100