Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The story of the bottle...

THE bottle in my hand...
Photo by Irfan Darian (2011)
It is weird for me to be reflecting on things that are outside the domain areas of the recently concluded Apple Leadership Summit 2011 in Singapore, but I guess that is just me being me. The story of the black bottle that I got as a souvenir shown above was one such example.

As I was sitting and listening intently to one of the keynote speech, a participant member, whom I was later introduced as one of the organising team member of the summit, came to sit beside me. Well it wasn't that I was the lucky one that she chose to sit beside...but rather, since I was rather late in joining the seminar (due to my prepping the student presenters), and had to sit waaaaay back in the last row, and she was busy walking in and out of the auditorium, fate had it that she ended up sitting beside me.

As we were talking and having a great conversation, the topic of the water bottle came into the picture. She revealed that the bottle was specially ordered from the U.S. just for the summit, and they were specially made, with great quality control, to ensure that the gifts were decent and fit to be given as a special gift to the participants of the summit. She further related the story of how when the whole shipment arrived, the first immediate thought that came to most of them was to just pass these bottles to the participants, as-it-is. But somehow, someone (I think it was the manager or someone), had this idea that to be giving them away just as-it-is was not something that Apple was known for. Hence, what they continued to do, as she was relating to me, just amazes me! The whole team decided to unpack all the 500-over bottles, and wash them, ONE-BY-ONE! And I am not talking about just washing the outside, but also the insides of each and every bottle, using the sort of small long brush that one would use to wash baby-bottles. I mean the seminar was barely a week away and they decided to do something, perhaps even unnecessary to most people, that was totally out of sync with the whole grand scheme of things, where the organisation of the event was concerned. And then to top it off, knowing the humid and warm weather that Singapore had been experiencing for the last few days, the team decided to fill up EACH bottle with mineral water. And I mean real mineral water, and NOT the tap water that came out from the taps here in Singapore (and doing this even though WHO has certified that Singapore's tap water was fit to be drunk straight off the tap! By the way I do know how tap water in Singapore tastes like. :D ) How is that for details and great service!

Now I know some of you might be wondering why in the world were the organisers fretting over all these seemingly small little stuffs? Weren't there any other bigger things to worry about? But then again, these 'fretting' over the little stuffs might be that one small thing that differentiates Apple, or in this case even, the organising committee, from others. I mean it just makes me think about all those small little things that sometimes, we as leaders in the educational arena, or for that matter, leaders in general, seemed to be overlooking. And its not about micromanaging in this context, but more of seeing to it that there ought to be things that would set us apart from others. It is about having the foresight, the thought, the wherewithal, to invest in the small details that would would make the experience that much more value-adding.

Seeing the bottle these past few days and reflecting on the story behind its existence, makes me realise about how then can I make my teaching and learning experiences that much more different and value-adding to my charges. It might not necessarily be something overly vulgar, but perhaps something subtle, something small, something that would set the learning experiences I am providing after the summit that slightly more different than from previous lessons. And perhaps as I continue to work on those small little things, my last statement in this blog post, and my challenge to the readers reading this post is:

What is your bottle (story)?

Signing off,
...the cynical idealist

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


Loh Kwai Yin said...

:) Nice Bottle Story :)

Ah! So, everyone of you received the bottle?
If that's the case, they have one 'extra' left in their store 'cos "mine" never arrived... haha..

irfan darian said...

Haha, nope it wasn't passed to us, it was laid out outside the auditorium, the participants took one each on the way in.