When we started our Read & Recover Initiative in partnership with Brad Sugars, we knew that it was going to be a big job, full of fun and a fair bit of hard work and hey, we’re ALWAYS up for a challenge and ALWAYS up for hard work ! To us, it was going to take some great organisational skills and a passion to make kids smile. If you think about the process in its simplest form, all we have to do is buy 1600 books and send them to 100 hospitals. All of us at White Now consider ourselves as organizational machines (and we usually are except when one of our kids has been up all night then we are more like organisational disasters) !!
We started with a plan and a time line. Isn’t it true though that it’s not until you plan a process that you actually work out that the simple logistics that you had once thought of, have turned into a 68 page procedure manual that takes 2 weeks to develop and another 2 weeks to digest ? Our aim though is to get these books out there and we will do what it takes to make that happen.
We are rapidly crossing the tasks of the list with each cross triggering a smile on our faces knowing that we are one step closer to getting those books out. There have been so many people who have offered their assistance to pack or deliver the books or simply be involved somehow, and they are patiently waiting until it is ‘packing day’. We had many photographers offering their services to do photo shoots for us with Brad and also taking images of the delivery of the books to the hospitals. We ended up securing Michael O’Farrell from www.ofarrell.com.au, who is already an absolute pleasure to deal with. This contact came through Facebook and we thank his daughter for putting his name forward.
We are right in the middle of calling the hospitals and this is where the interesting challenges have manifested. The plan was to call each hospital, find the appropriate person to chat to about the initiative, grab their details, gain their permission to donate the books, send them a formal letter, get the delivery volunteers to call them when it is time to deliver, have the hospital contact receive the books at a mutually suitable time and there endeth the process. Don’t forget that we are organizational machines here at White Now and if there is a process to follow, we will do it. What we didn’t plan for was all the variables that we would find once this ring around started – these include;
- The person we need to talk to is on leave
- The person we need to talk to is unable to return our call
- The Reception staff want to handle this themselves and won’t pass the call on
- The hospital is unable to take books for hygiene/OH&S reasons
- The hospital is unable take books, they can only take monetary donations
- The message gets lost
- The hospital wants to give the books to kids to take home
- The hospital wants to see the actual books prior to accepting them
- The hospital will only take them if they are posted
With all of these variable thrown at us, we soon realized that we had to be flexible to meet the needs of either the individual taking the call, the hospital or the donation protocol. So guess what ? That is what we did. We put our ‘flexible, accommodating’ hats on and tried to meet all of their needs. Once we did this, we could achieve White Now and Brad Sugars’ goal of getting 1600 books to 100 hospitals. What was so great about talking to the hospitals was that even if they could not accept the books, they usually offered suggestions about other hospitals that could. Everyone seems to care which is simply amazing.
We have learnt a valuable lesson with this process and that is that you can plan and set up procedures to YOUR requirements, but the other stakeholders may not always be able to follow your procedures. You have to quickly adjust your strategy to suit everyone…… and that is just what we are doing; Some books are staying in their factory wrapping, some books that were to be delivered are now being posted, some hospitals that were to receive books now are not receiving the books with other hospitals being added to the list, our formal letters change depending on the individual requirements of each hospital and soon there will be 1600 more books in Australian hospitals.
It is certainly true that if you fail to plan, then you plan to fail, but when you are planning anything, build into the plan the flexibility to meet the needs of others as you cannot always predict others behaviours.