Yesterday we needed some curry to be placed in a bowl, as part of a food exhibit. We managed to locate a food stall nearby which sold curry. The guy dishing out the food wasn't sure what he was allowed to do, so he checked with his lady supervisor and she billed us $1 for a few spoons of curry. We went back happy, and the stall made a bit of money in exchange for some sauce.
Today we needed to place fresh curry into the same bowl for the second day of our exhibition. We went back to the same stall. This time we were served by different people. This other man said they would never allow such a sale.
In my best Mandarin (which is not very good), I pointed out that yesterday his colleagues sold us a small amount of curry for $1. The man checked with his colleagues and insisted that his instructions were to sell a certain amount of curry sauce together with meat and potatoes, and that each portion must cost $3.
We went to other stalls and were told the same thing - "Our instructions are to sell exactly this amount of food for this amount of money." No more, no less. Finally, one of our partner stalls at the other Tower contributed the curry we needed.
This was a minor incident. But I wondered: in business, how many opportunities have been missed because staff haven't been given flexible guidelines, or weren't thinking like their bosses who owned the business?