when things don’t go to plan
I have a confession: I once made a vendor cry.
Now, for those of you that know me, this is NOT like my personality to be so intense and tenacious that I would make another person cry…but it did happen. And I still feel terrible about it.
Here’s what happened:
The Situation: Within my first month on the job, I had a vendor notify me two days before our Thanksgiving ad that our truck filled with vanilla ice cream (that was supposed to go on everyone’s pumpkin pies!) was going to be delayed and would not make it before the holiday.
*Go into panic mode
*Write three (yes, three) strongly-worded emails that this was unacceptable and that they needed to find a way to get us the product
*Leave multiple voicemails
*Threaten that it could impact future promotions if they didn’t get us the product
*Consider running to the bathroom and bursting out in tears that no one would have vanilla ice cream for their Thanksgiving pumpkin pie
Outcome: When the vendor finally picked up one of my calls, she literally could not even get words out…she just choked out words between tears. There was no way they were getting us the product.
Almost two years removed from this moment, I see the flaws in my reaction. Instead of assuming positive intent, I assumed that the vendor was careless with my crucial ice cream purchase order. I assumed they hadn’t done everything in their power to fix it. And, most mistakenly, I assumed that they didn’t care.
As a BA, we are tasked with ensuring that our guest finds the products she loves on the shelves. We partner with vendors of all sizes to bring in our products in the most efficient and effective manner. We are merchandise planning business analysts—heck, it’s even in our job title!—but the reality is that things do not always go to plan.
Being a BA is all about planning, but it’s also about being resilient and adaptable. We can plan the perfect inventory buy, the perfect inventory flow strategy, or even the perfect ad forecast, but the fact of the matter is that there will always be things we can’t plan for and can’t control.
While this may be the case, we can control one thing: our reaction and response when things hit the fan.
In my time as a BA, I’ve had a lot of crazy things happen. From entire trucks of ice cream showing up melted at our distribution centers to imported gelato items ending up stuck in customs in the Caribbean—I’ve seen it all. When these events happen, it sucks. But, if you react in the right way and take the right partners, it will all end up alright in the end.
In the case of my story of the Thanksgiving Ice Cream Disaster of ’12, we did fall out of stock on vanilla ice cream for Thanksgiving. It happened and there was nothing I could do about it. But I did learn that no one wants to screw up and that we have to give everyone (and ourselves) a bit of grace. This mindset has completely changed the way I react to the “fire drills” that inevitably arise on the job, and it has made me a better BA.
So remember—when you can’t control anything else, you can control your actions. Be the person the gives a little bit of grace, and I promise it will come back to you tenfold.
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