A Small Issue

Most of my career has been spent working for large companies where employee manuals fill a 3-ring binder, policies number into the hundreds and various metrics are used to measure the effectiveness of employees.

Puget Systems hasn’t grown so large that every issue can be solved by creating a new policy.  When employees don’t have dozens of policies and procedures governing how they get their work done,  their actions might not always be predictable.

A few weeks back I had an experience at Puget Systems that speaks to this unpredictable behavior and provides some insight into our culture.  

I fielded an email from a customer who had damaged the front section of his computer case and wondered if we’d be able to order that specific part for him. Unfortunately, the part our customer needed was not available individually. It was sold as part of the entire case. Not sure how to answer our customer, I sent a quick message to our owner explaining the situation.

What happened next is what impressed me the most.

Our owner advised me to speak to our business development manager. So I sent him a message and waited. For a moment I wondered if I’d made the right call to enlist the assistance of two managers in such a minor issue. I’ve worked at companies where the only way to speak with a manager was to schedule a formal meeting, and then pray like crazy they didn’t decline or no-show at the last minute.

Within fifteen minutes, the business development manager called me and said he met with one of our builders in production and explained the situation. Our builder had a solution that none of us had thought of. I won’t bore you with the details but he was able to locate the part our customer needed off another case that we were not using. By the time I took the call, the part had been located, packed up and was sitting on the shipping dock.

I now had the easy job of telling the customer we’d located the part, and it would be shipped that day.

I think back to that day where it took four employees including two managers to locate a part our customer needed. Some people might say that’s an inefficient use of time.  If my performance were being graded based on the number of customer tickets I complete then I certainly failed on that day. Anywhere along the line, someone could have put the kibosh on the whole thing.  

But that’s not how things are done here.

Locating a case part might seem like a small issue. But it speaks to how things are done at Puget Systems. And in the mind of the customer, getting the right part to make his computer feel like new again is a good feeling.

That’s no small issue.