Tell me about a time you came up with an innovative solution to a problem.
During the Y2K project I led in 1999, our area had a power outage at approximately 10:40 p.m. New Year’s Eve that threatened to shut down our systems at the midnight hour “ which was abjectly critical for Y2K. I instructed our lead technician to pull the battery backups from the cafeteria refrigerators for use in our server room, which at the time did not have an individual backup power system. The power outage lasted until nearly 3 a.m., but our use of the battery backups saved 100 percent of our rolled data. Although using the backups caused all dairy products in the refrigerators to spoil, the cost of restocking the dairy products was later determined to be less than 2 percent of the projected customer data loss to the business had we not used my solution.
The trucks at the retail store at which I worked as an assistant manager came loaded by personnel at a distribution center, box-by-box. After receiving a few trucks, I noticed that my employees were unloading broken merchandise that took a lot of time to clean up before the rest of the truck could be finished. The broken glass, paint, or whatever material it was prevented the employees from proceeding farther into the truck, causing more person-hours than normal. I noticed that the merchandise was broken because heavier boxes were on top of lighter boxes. After a couple of days of this situation, with productivity decreasing, I learned that the rest of the stores in my district faced the same problem. As a result, I asked each store to take pictures of the mess so the distribution centers could see exactly what was happening. I also asked each one to write down how many additional person-hours it took to clean up the mess. After we gathered this information for a four-week period, we had a pretty a good estimate of how much the company was losing “ approximately $9.50 per person-hour, an average of $125 per store times 15 stores times 30 nights a month, amounting to a substantial sum. I took the information to my district manager. Once he realized how much money his district was losing each month because of broken merchandise in the trucks, he contacted his regional manager, and the trucks after that were loaded more carefully. The district made our Profit and Loss the next month by a 9 percent increase.