You don’t have to hold a leadership position to see and suggest a better way of doing things.
Our local community center runs a “Toddler Gym” every Saturday morning. For a small membership fee, parents can take their kids to an indoor basketball court loaded with toys and mats and miniature vehicles and let them get all their energy out. But every fourth or fifth Saturday, the Toddler Gym is canceled because the space is being used for something else. Unfortunately, that information is never shared in advance, not even on the website. And the employees have to spend time and energy disappointing 75-100 families who typically show up, either by turning them away at the door or taking their phone call ahead of time.
It’s not an egregious customer service mistake. We’re lucky to have a community center that does this at all. But there’s still got to be a better way.
It seems like those dates could be put on a public calendar ahead of time or posted on the website as they occur. Or send out a quick “No Toddler Gym today due to our basketball tournament—we’ll see you next Saturday!” We all had to enter our email addresses to enroll. Why not use that asset?
One of those cheerful employees behind the desk must have had similar thoughts considering they have to deliver that news to families on Saturday mornings. Why not do something about it? It’s hard to imagine someone could get fired for suggesting or just outright initiating a better way that they genuinely believe will make the customers and the employees happier.
The most junior admissions officer can point out where their application instructions aren’t clear enough and offer to do something about it.
A counselor can spot where there’s a bottleneck of information in their office and try to make things more efficient.
The homecoming committee member who notices that there’s no place at the dance for people to leave their coats can point it out, and even better, can suggest a workable solution on the fly.
Finding a better way doesn’t mean ignoring directions. You can’t decide that a homemade video will be better than the paper your English teacher specifically asked you to write. And I’ve written before that college applicants should not look for a better way to provide the requested information to colleges—schools are very particular about what, when, and how materials should be sent.
But the most impactful improvements are often built on multiple well-intentioned micro-changes made over time. And that starts with caring enough to ask, “Is there a better way?”