Thursday, August 2, 2012

Asked. Received. Hmmm... It Works.

Ever get tired of making do?  Settling for less?  I do.  Enough so, it spurred me to action a few days ago.

I am writing a grant.  No big thing--just a part of what I do on the 9 to 5.  In fact, it is an application I complete annually.  This year, however, the Excel file (application) was locked; making it impossible to enlarge the cells sufficiently enough to craft a decent budget justification.  Well...allow me (please) to back up a bit...I could write it in--it just didn't show up (in its entirety) on a printed copy of the application--only on the electronic version.

This was problematic for several reasons.  The hard copies are what my staff and I refer to throughout the year while administering the grant.  They are also what we share with the auditors.  And, of course, a working hard copy is  essential to have on hand should a citizen request a viewing of the document.  Grrr!

The issue one likes to make special requests from the funders.  It is never pretty--so to speak.  A few afternoons ago, as I toyed with how to handle my dilemma, I thought back to an older episode of The Office.  The character named Pam confided to the rolling cameras that she was tired of never getting what she wanted.  She vowed to thereafter let others know exactly what she needed versus putting up with what she received.  A few minutes later while standing at a bar, a bartender hands her a beer.  At first she looks down at it; somewhat dismayed.  Then, she faces the bartender (with determination) and says, "No, I'm sorry. This was supposed to be a lite beer."  "Sorry about that.  Here you go," said the bartender, handing her a lite beer.  She smiles, and tells the camera, "Well, what do you know?  It works!"

That little flashback from television world (which I so very infrequently visit) led me to send out a a quick email asking the funder for assistance in modifying the spreadsheet because the cells could not be enlarged.  The first response I received directed me to simply "not worry," they (the funder) would adjust it when they received it.  Hmmm...

I "sat" on this email for a day; then, went in for "round two."  This time, I was clearer in presenting my case.  Very concisely, my email message placed the focus on how the modification would benefit my staff, auditors and the public.  Within a few minutes, I received a response back indicating, "Send me the spreadsheet.  I'll make the adjustments and get it right back to you."  He did.

It still wasn't right, though. Rather than lengthening the columns, he had widened them--which made a printed copy something difficult for most to make any sort of sense of.  I emailed right back, and politely asked him if he could make the adjustment lengthwise versus in width format; explaining the readability issue.  Within fifteen minutes, he emailed back, saying, "Sorry about that.  Here you go."  Amazing!  It worked!  And...pretty much the same way it did for good ole' Pammy girl (that aforementioned, inspiring character from The Office).

I definitely think there's something to this letting others know exactly what you need jazz--versus just putting up with stuff.  Enough so that I'm willing to keep trying it (smile). T.