Customer Experience Innovation Blog with Toni Newman

Missed Opportunities

It’s an early Sunday morning at Starbucks and I’m here to catch a few quiet moments and to organize my thoughts for the week. There’s something about the Sunday morning mood at Starbucks. It’s peaceful, reflective and a good place to be.

There’s an older gentleman sitting to my right. I’ve walked past him a couple of times as I picked up my coffee. Caught his eye … smiled… got a small but hesitant smile in return. Not sure how to describe him. Fragile maybe. Yes, fragile would be the right word.

I sit down at a table not far from him and go about my business. Reading… thinking… planning. And yet, every so often, his energy calls to me and I glance over at him.  He seems somewhat surreal sitting there – alone – as the Sunday morning Starbucks crowd bustles by him, intent upon their choice of drink for their own morning solstice.

He watches them but they are completely unaware of him. I wonder, why is he here? Why is he here alone? Is his wife busy that morning?
Is she sick? Perhaps, she has even recently passed away. That might explain the sadness in his eyes. Does he have grown children? Grandchildren? Perhaps they all live far away? Perhaps he is lonely. Perhaps he wants to be alone.

I think about going over to speak with him but for some reason, I don’t.

When I glance over next, he seems to be preparing himself for a feat of some sort and then I realize that the feat is simply finding the strength to stand. Suddenly, he looks even more fragile than he did just minutes before. He takes a big breath, leans on his cane and pulls himself up. I think about getting up to help. I usually would. But again, for some reason, I hesitate and before I know it, he is standing.

He makes the effort to turn and push in his chair so that it will be out of the way of passers by. The attentiveness of a past generation, I think to myself. Suddenly, a couple of teenagers push past him, narrowly avoiding knocking the gentle man over. They keep on going without even noticing the havoc that they have almost provoked. The lack of attentiveness of a new generation, I think to myself.

I am annoyed at their indifference and for a third time, I almost get up and for a third time, I hesitate unsure of whether or not my intervention will be welcome or even why I would intervene in the first place. Before I know it, he is gone.

The possibility of making a connection had passed. An opportunity to make a difference had been missed. But the nagging feeling that I could have, should have, normally would have been a player in this moment as it played out on the Starbucks stage stayed with me all day. For reasons I have yet to understand, I had hesitated and in that moment of hesitation, opportunity had been lost.

How many missed opportunities to make a difference have we all had in our lives? Opportunities to reach out. Opportunities to share ideas. Opportunities to have the courage to speak out when others don’t even notice the need to speak up.

This is my first blog. I thought long and hard about launching myself into this unique world because there is, quite frankly, so much being said and at the risk of being offensive, so much being said that is not worth the cyber space that it is taking up.

I wanted my blog to be better and different. I researched. I thought. I analyzed. I got myself tied up into millions of knots as I agonized about what innovation blogs could be, should be and normally would be when I finally came to a realization. All I want to do is reach out, share ideas and have the courage to speak out when others may not even notice the need to speak up. All I want to do is make a difference. And as long as I keep that in mind and share what I believe could make a difference in the lives of those who do me the honor of reading what I write, I am doing what I am here to do.

I don’t need to write the best blog on strategic innovation. I don’t need to be quoted, and tweeted and linked to more than any other innovation expert.  I just need to write a damn good blog that provides you with a different perspective on customer centric innovation than you might find anywhere else.

And I have hesitated too long already. Opportunities have been missed. And that, my friends, is a situation that I have every intention of correcting! Imagine the Possibilities!

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