The city of San Francisco can't afford to give up pricey real estate for cemeteries, so not far from that grand city hundreds of acres of land are dedicated to massive cemeteries in the little-known city of Colma (1.98 square miles and 73% of it is cemeteries). Several years ago I was involved in sales in the Bay area and I discovered these cemeteries provide a serene place to eat lunch.
While eating in my car one day I looked into my rear-view mirror and saw a man standing by a graveside, leaning on a pole, carrying on a fairly animated conversation. I began to feel sorry for the fellow thinking he'd probably recently lost someone he loved and was working through his deep grief. My compassion was instantly shocked into amazement when I saw someone climb up out of the grave! No, nothing supernatural happened--my scene of grief was actually a couple of grave diggers completing another grave site--with one of them in the grave and the other standing next to it talking with his buddy.
So what does that story have to do with anticipating problems? Nothing. But it creates a nice bridge to a story that does show a creative effort to anticipate and prevent a recurring problem--at a rather strange location.
A group of cemeteries in Melbourne, Australia has installed defibrillators to resuscitate mourners attending funerals and the company has trained gravediggers in how to use the defib units. Elderly people generally have older friends and a couple of collapsed mourners a month, or calling the paramedics a few times a years are more than the executives at Cheltenham cemeteries can accept. The company has installed defib units so the grave diggers can provide emergency services to mourners who are overcome at a grave site.
While a cemetery obviously wants new business--people dying on the grounds creates a bit of a PR nightmare. A creative solution gave this organization international recognition and a practical way to bring value to its clients.
What creative ways have you found to prevent unwanted problems in your company?