The Strategy of Making It Up As We Go

The Covid19 pandemic is impacting ¾ of Ohio businesses and not just the small ones. Yesterday, we ordered a desk from Ikea and because they’ve closed their stores to the public, our only option to obtain our purchase was to have it delivered or curbside pick between specified hours. We decided against having the desk shipped and headed to the Ikea store (about an hour away).

Usually, shopping at Ikea is an epic journey; it’s like a childhood visit to Kings Island or The Magic Kingdom. Anticipation sweeps over me as I drive onto the vast parking lot filled with hundreds of SUVs, mini-vans, and pick up trucks. Excited patrons rush to the entrances prepared to discover the newest space-saving item and to eat their weight in Swedish meatballs. But today was different, very different. Upon our arrival, my feelings more closely mirrored those had by the Griswold’s as they arrived at Wally World, the mystical amusement park made famous in the first National Lampoon’s Vacation film. Few cars, few people, and stunning disbelief.

Signs directed us to drive to the front doors of the store where a small tent, occupied by four frozen employees, had been set up. As we pull up to the destination, the staff gathered the information concerning our order then told us to drive to an assigned area and await their call while they pulled our order. Within a few moments, the phone rang, and we were informed to proceed to the loading zone. There we were met by another employee with our desk. As I prepared to load the box, I asked the staffer how things were going, to which he replied: “We have only been operating like this for a few days, and we are making it up as we go.” Lately, I’ve heard that phrase a lot.

For us, the process was seamless, and we appreciated the service. Driving home, I kept thinking about the phrase; “We are making it up as we go” and realized that rethinking the way we “do business” is always a good thing. Far too often, business owners and management are married to their processes and procedures, not because they are the best or most effective way, but because they have always done it like that. One silver lining to this disruptive pandemic might be that we, as business owners and managers, are being forced to rethink our businesses. You know, sometimes making it up as we go isn’t always a bad thing.