Upholding brand promises:
Leadership in a time of mistakes

Brookline, MA launched a new electric scooter program on April Fool’s day 2019.  Maybe the launch date was the omen, maybe it is just what happens when you launch a technology to the masses. Things go wrong.

Mistakes, failure, errors – they are all part of life.  They are the impetus for change, evolution and solutions.  There is nothing wrong with failure. It should be embraced. But what is important is how we lead in moments when we’ve missed the mark.

The electric scooter sharing website Lime-S states their mission: Through the equitable distribution of shared scooters, bikes and transit vehicles, Lime-S’ aim is to reduce dependence on personal automobiles for short distance transportation and leave future generations with a cleaner, healthier planet.

During the Brookline launch event a participant fell and “bloodied” her head.  EMTs were called and she was taken away in an ambulance.  Good news – she was wearing a helmet and only required some stitches. (We hope she has a quick recovery, both physically and emotionally).

In an interview with WBUR, Scott Mullen, the Director of Northeast Expansion for Lime Scooter’s initial response to the accident was: “I need more details. Was she hit by something? Was there a banana peel? We’ll figure it out. Let me get the facts, and we’ll figure it out.” (Click below for the audio clip.)

Was this a good response?  Is this leadership in the face of a mistake?

Let’s break this response down.  Good elements: “Let me get the facts, and we’ll figure it out.”  He is showing a willingness to learn and work out the problem – to evolve. This is living up to the 4th element of Lime-S’ mission: “We believe in transparency and accountability and strive to deliver the best customer experience every day.”

It is the tone and other elements of his statement that don’t work; specifically, the banana peel comment.  We all know the scene: someone slips on a banana peel.

It is an old humorous shtick. We laugh. Why? It’s ludicrous.

In his response, he is alluding that this person’s injury in association with his product is ludicrous – absurd, unbelievable. These two words (banana peel) erode the sincerity of the main principles of their mission statement – integrity, community and trust.

When we want to move our businesses forward, when growth is on the line, go back to the basics – do you believe your own mission statement? Do you live it in all of your actions? Are you looking for and sussing out all the places where it might not be in alignment with how you behave – even in moments of failure when you want to protect and deflect any harm to your baby – your company?