I’ll confess, I cook the way I dress, to kill. So when I was on solo dinner duty with my daughter one evening the local pizzeria was the safest choice.

The place was quite packed and the food took a long time. The waiters were really great though, keeping us informed and entertaining us with funny faces when they walked by.
We ate a nice meal and the kids dessert was part of a set menu that offered the following simple choice options:
Scoop of ice cream or a fresh banana
My daughter was getting quite tired so I said “Why don’t we just get the banana ‘to go’ You can eat it in the car on the way home?”
She agreed this was a good plan. So I asked the waiter to fetch the bill and the ‘banana to go’ because my daughter was tired.
He empathised and went to sort it.
Five minutes went by. He came with the bill but no banana.
I reminded him and he nodded and went to get it.
After ten minutes we heard a commotion near the ‘open oven’ section of the restaurant.
The Italian chef was throwing a tantrum, yelling
“A banana? A banana? Why is everyone asking me for a banana?!”
The waiter was talking to him in Italian. The chef was shaking his head and continuing to use the pizza oven.
My daughter and I looked at each other.
Uh-oh.
We had dared to go off piste. We had asked for something that did not compute.
“Are you really bothered about the banana sweetie?” I asked my 9 year old.
She shrugged. “It’s ok. I can have one at home.”
The yelling continued at the pizza oven.
“Banana!? Banana!!” The chef was sounding like a minion from the Despicable Me movies which made my daughter and I burst into a fit of giggles.
By now we’d been waiting 15 minutes for a lowly banana.
My daughter rolled here eyes in comedy way and muttered
“Dude, it’s just a banana!”
I had to agree. The chef did not need to peel it. There was no expectation to make a dinosaur sculpture out of it or even chop it. He did not need to serve it in a fancy dish. He just needed to walk to his fruit store and hand a simple banana to the waiter.
But for some reason he didn’t want to.
He was being inflexible and perhaps found the request offensive to his creative culinary genius in some way.
The waiter was at his mercy until he finally gave up and went into the kitchen himself to source the highly coveted, long-awaited, prize-winning….er…banana.
It got me thinking about the customer service teams I work with in client organisations.
Specifically, The delays that can occur in service chains due to the relaying of unusual messages. The unnecessary, time-wasting internal discussion and analysis instead of just doing it. The attitude towards requests that are out of the normal process, even when they are super easy to fulfil.
Do we question it too much, waste time?
Make a fuss?
Wonder the ‘why?’ instead of just getting on with the ‘how?’
Over complicate things when really it’s quite simple?
I hope this blog could spark useful reflections at your next team meeting.
In customer service we need to keep things simple and effortless. Leaders need to reward the action takers and manage any behaviour that is to the contrary.
It doesn’t have to be so difficult.
As my daughter said, ‘ Dude, it’s just a banana.’