A few weeks ago, I finished a blog post and was feeling satisfied. I had just put my tea cup in the sink and redirected toward the next project of the day when I got a text from a friend of mine in Colorado kindly informing me that I had made a couple typos.
The post hadn’t been up for 10 minutes; let’s hear it for a connected world! Thank you, Wendy, for that near miss with grammatical humiliation.
Simple enough error, simple enough fix, but let's step back a moment because I think there may be something bigger happening here. Something bigger than grammar. (Like the irony there? I'm taking creative license with basic sentence construction. Verb-smerb. Appropriate apologies to my English teachers.)
I’ve mentioned before that we’re in the middle of building a mobile pizzeria, yes? Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of sitting around a table with some really smart folks, like our friends at TriVan in Ferndale. They know a lot of useful things we don’t, like how to distribute weight between the axle and the trailer hitch or how to work through problems like venting the oven exhaust to the required height while making sure the trailer fits smoothly under these little structures called overpasses and bridges. They know trucks; we know restaurants. Together we're building what can only be accurately described as an ode to pizza.
Just the other day though, we invited my dad to tag along to a meeting to review the drawings (and to geek-out on their impressive truck construction) when he wondered out loud why the trailer ceiling wasn’t a bit higher. Hmmm. Yes. Why wasn’t it a little higher? Indeed, at the standard height, tossing pizza dough would have presented a bit of a challenge. While we could have posted a couple nightmare pizza dough tossing bloopers on YouTube, it's probably best to steer clear of that fame and simply raise the ceiling. Wow, thanks, Dad. You saved us from YouTube infamy.
And then there is this other time when our friend and colleague suggested that we put the order window on the right side of the trailer instead of the left so that we can pull up and serve curb-side. Brilliant. Thank you, James. That hero just saved the lives of countless customers (you?) who would have been otherwise lining up in traffic to grab a slice. Priceless contribution.
Those simple suggestions changed the entire design of our new mobile pizzeria.They provided valuable input because they felt comfortable voicing it, and we were open to receiving it. Collaboration takes an openness on all sides. The giver has to feel comfortable giving and the receiver has to be open to receiving.
But there is another kind of collaboration out there that goes beyond this simple give and take. And this kind of collaboration is like magic. It's when 1+1 no longer equals 2. It equals 3, or 300. It's when we get smart people from diverse backgrounds together openly sharing ideas and engaging in constructive dialog.
I've had the privilege in my (other) professional life to work with groups that come up with creative and workable solutions to social issues because they are able to sit down together in a safe space and think through things together. Most recently, that work has been with an initiative in Skagit County to improve access to healthy, local food. Each meeting has highlighted for me how important our collective work is. As folks from diverse backgrounds have met in small and large groups, each has brought something unique and precious to the collective table.
The point is simple: we are all a heck of a lot smarter when we work together. Every one of us, experienced or not, has something significant to contribute. Every one of us.
But how about you, dear customer? How have you influenced your local neighborhood pizzeria? Let me count the ways. In May 2012, one of our favorite customers, Marney, got Will thinking about offering burgers. And now we offer the only local, organic, grass-fed burger in town. You’re also responsible for gluten-free crust, whole wheat crust and the move to organic chicken. Yay, you! And it’s not just menu items. Our cherished Pizza’zza Rewards customers suggested that we hire customer service staff to take some of the pressure off our busy cooks. We did, and we're happy to report that it’s working beautifully. Thanks, friends.
When we share our thoughts with one another, our work is not additive, it is multiplicative. And when we really start flowing, it’s simply exponential. Whether we’re talking about solving complete social issues or just making a darned good pizza, our collective efforts are so much more powerful, effective, and let’s face it—fun—than anything we think up alone.
Besides celebrating the collaborative process, let this post be our pledge to you. We give you our word that we will listen to you. We will take your suggestions to heart. We will always keep open ears and minds to what our community wants in their favorite pizzeria. So, from grammatical errors to menu suggestions to ideas about how to give back to our community, it is with open hearts that we welcome and honor your suggestions. We encourage you to contact us directly at Will@pizzazza.com and Erica@pizzazza.com.