Saturday, December 17, 2005

Above and Beyond the Call of Duty

Customer service can make or break your organization. People will pay a premium just to be treated extra-ordinary and they will continue to utilize your service for this treatment. At the end of the day, customers can always find another company willing to provide them with the products and services they are looking for, it is up to us to provide them with this extra-ordinary service to keep them using our products and services.

Disney, 1982

My family is originally from Aruba, and every year, our parents would take us to Disney World. Back then, my most favorite cartoon character had been Donald Duck, I always loved his feisty attitude. Before we left to go on this trip, I had set out to contact Donald Duck and tell him I was his biggest fan so I preceded to write a letter to hand him in the grand parade at Disney. Five days later, the time has come, I am sitting on the curb in the magical place called Disney World, watching my childhood fantasies dance before my eyes in the magical Disney parade, just waiting for Donald Duck to dance by so I can hand him my carefully crafted letter. Then across the street, there he his, the one and only Donald Duck. I yelled, "Donald" to no avail, he was not able to hear me. This was a crushing blow to a 6 year old, as I sat down with my head in my hands, then, out of no where, a loyal Disney employee that walks the parade with a broom and a dustpan, picking up garbage and such. He asked me what was the matter and I told him I had a special letter for Donald Duck, he told me to give it to him and he would make sure that he got it straight to Donald Duck.

One month past and I was back in Aruba, wondering if Donal Duck ever got my letter when my mother called me into the house, "Wayne, come in, you have mail!" So I went inside and was greeted with a large envelope that was addressed to "Mr. Wayne Johnson" coming from Orlando, FL, but not mentioning on the envelope, exactly who send it. I opened it and behold, it was a letter from Donald Duck, and an autograph picture.

AMAZING! An employee who took pride in the company he worked for, whose job was to walk through the park and pick up garbage, made a lifetime memory for a kid. And that kid is now using that example in training others on how to provide extra-ordinary customer service. That janator knew what it took, and Disney back then knew what kind of culture to create that type of commitment.

  • What can your company do to foster that type of environment?
  • Do you go the extra mile, performing tasks that might not neccesirally be "your job", simply to provide an extra-ordinary experience for your customers?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Costs that are difficult to quantify

Today I had a good discussion with a fellow employee whom I was explaining the hidden costs in organizations that are extremely difficult to quantify. I call these costs "soft costs". Soft costs are costs that are difficult to put an amount on but that are real. Here is an example:

There are two divisions in a company, each division run by a different manager. Division A has 50 employees while division B has 100. Both departments utilize the human resource department which is a cost center to the company. The HR department handles all employee relations such as hiring, firing, handling complaints, etc. for all the departments in the company. One way to distribute the cost of the HR department is to equally distribute it among each employee, if the HR costs $150k to run and there are 150 employees, which would amount to $1,000 per employee. So division A would expense $50,000 toward HR and division B would expense $100,000 toward HR.

Here is where things become hard to quantify. The manager of division A has a high turn-over rate which requires HR to spend a considerable time in hiring new employees. HR has determined that they spend about 50% of the time on division A because of this. So division A actually has $75k of expense, they are not realizing the extra $25k expense and division B is expensing $25k too much. This fact makes us realize that division A is painting a picture that they are more profitable than they really are and division b is not getting credit for being even more profitable.

WHAT IS THE COST OF A BAD MANAGER? It is hard to quantify but definitely has long ranging implications.


Costs involve much more than raw materials, shipping, taxes, etc. Costs involve the actions of managers and the company, attitude in the organization. Managers need to take a deeper look at the cost of organizational behavior and its impact to the bottom line.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

High Probability Selling

Have you ever wished you only called on those people who were going to buy your product? Think about how effective you would be. To have outstanding sales you must first be able to identify the best audience. Your audience will fall into 4 categories:

Group #1 (Wayside) – They are no more ready to buy your product than fly to the moon. You already know their profile so don’t waste anytime here.

Group #2 (Stony) – This group acts interested but after you leave, they quickly lose interest. Their interest is shallow. You can recognize them on the first call because you were unable to find any real “pain” (revelation of their need). They may be nice people but will not come through with a commitment.

Group #3 (Thorny) – These prospects appear to be much more promising. They have evident needs, but are caught up in substitute solutions that drain their cash, time and energy, thereby preventing you from reaping any significant results with them.

Group #4 (Good) – This group of prospects are the ones who have genuine need, are willing to admit it, and are prepared to take action if and when a reasonable plan is offered to them.

While it is impossible to never call on someone who is in Group 1 through 3, only present your product solution to Group #4. Presenting to Groups 1 through 3 is being ineffective with your time.

To be even more effective, you can target your top twenty in Group #4. Experienced sales reps know it can take twice as long to make a thousand-dollar sale to a small sized customer than it does to make a twenty-thousand-dollar sale to a larger customer.

Exercise 1

1.1 Create a profile for each of your Groups that relate particularly to your industry.

1.2 Create a profile for the top 20 in Group #4.

1.3 Take a look at your most successful sales calls. What did they look like? What did they have in common? What was it about your product/service that they liked?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

No Quotas

As mentioned in my previous post, I am reading the Jack Welch book. Today I would like to discuss his performance evaluation strategy that he implemented at GE.

Everyone falls into one of three groups:

A People - These people are leaders, top performers, energetic, and can execute. These people make up 20% of your team.

B People - These people are very diligent and have great potential to be an "A" person. These people make up 70% of your team.

C People - These people are underperformers, do not have potential to be an "A" let alone a "B" person. These people make up 10% of your team.

Here is the falicy. The managers at GE are required to put 20% of their team in A, 70% of thier team in B and the bottom 10% of their team in C. The C people are let go. The problem here is that they are being compared to only their team. It is quite possible that someone rated a C on one team may very well be a B or even an A on another team. Besides that, if a team is full of A people, that is too bad, managers must select 10% of the team as C. What would your organization look like if 10% of your workforce is cut every year because of a quota that must be met?

I do agree with much of what he says but by putting a quota onto letting people go is never good for morale.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Jack Welch - Straight from the Gut

I was in the dollar general store in my town shopping for some prank gifts for a family members' 30th birthday party and I saw Jack Welch's book there, I couldn't resist picking it up for only a buck. Today's topic will be based on what Jack calls his basic management beliefs, behind his beliefs (which are bolded) are my comments about that particular belief:

1. Competing hard to win. I believe in this statement, if we do not compete hard, we will not win and we chance everything to luck.

2. Facing reality. If we do not face reality we will slowly dig a grave for ourselves in using ignorance for our shovel.

3. Motivating people by alternately hugging and kicking them. WHAT, "kicking", while I understand what he means by kicking, I would hardly use that word to describe it, maybe pushing or stretching. I we are too aggressive we will "kick" them right out of the company.

4. Setting stretch goals. It is very important to set goals that are sitting just on the other side of "things I have never done" other wise you will find yourself standing on the shores of mediocrity.

5. Relentlessly following up on people to make sure things get done. This is ridiculous, all this means is micro managing. If I have to relentlessly follow up with people then I have the wrong people on my team.

At the end of the day, Jack Welch ran a successful organization at GE using the basic management beliefs stated above.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


I have read many books and articles relating to leadership and have yet to see any one of them talk about this attribute. Predictable. A Leader needs to be predictable. Those who follow a leader need predictability. Why?

1. People need to know what your expectations are and you must act in a way that predict those expectations. If your expectations are to reach a certain objective and that objective has been met, you should predictably give praise for that accomplishment.

2. Predictability gives way to direction. When a leader is predictable, followers know what to expect and know where they are going. The unknown presents a very scary picture.

Without any predictability, your followers will constantly be questioning their performance, your view of their performance and your response to their performance. Those who have a bi-polar tendencies will be destroyed as a leader because of their inability to be predictable to their constituents. Think about it even in government, in this last election. No matter who you liked, one things for sure, President Bush is predictable, and in the end, that is what helped him win. People know what to expect. Unpredictability bring unknown expectations from the followers which is a good way to have no followers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Reflection Point for Leadership

As my previous post mentioned, I am reading the book, "The Leadership Challenge", the authors studies show the following characteristics to be CRUCIAL in being a leader, everyday I am being convinced more and more how true this is. These are top four crucial characteristics:

1. Honesty (Credibility)

2. Competent

3. Forward-Looking

4. Inspiring

Monday, June 20, 2005

Honesty Essential in Leadership

I am reading a new book, recommended by a high level manager for Universal Studies, called The Leadership Challenge, by Kouzes and Posner. Just after reading the very first few pages, it really became very clear to me the importance of HONESTY in leadership, and I capitalize it because of how important it really is.

Other words that would also be considered in the HONESTY category are, integrity, ethical and moral. Wow, simple yet absent in very many aspiring leaders. If you are leading, you must actually have followers. The followers have to have a compelling reason to allow you to lead them. Sure there may be reasons like you are a successful innovator but without TRUST, they will not follow. Followers trust based on their leaders HONESTY. So leaders really need to reflect on several points;

1. Do you show your followers what you stand for (this not necessarily being religion but more like the ethical treatment of employees, how you perceive the importance of your employees, etc.).

2. Are your actions in line with your words? Do you walk your talk?

If not, beware, your leadership role is soon ending. Those who we lead require the basic need of TRUST, which comes from the demonstration of HONESTY.

Friday, June 17, 2005

5 Attributes to becoming a Successful Innovator

1. Be comfortable with change

2. Be clearly directed

3. Be thorough

4. Be a participated manager

5. Be Persistant

Following these attibutes will help lead you to be a successful innovator.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Making Better Decision

I am writing on this topic based upon reading in the latest edition of Harvard Management Review Publication. They interviewed author Paul Nutt, a management professor from Ohio State University. Looking back at the experience of both others and my own, and based on information in this article, here are some keys to making better decisions as to increase the odds of being successful.

First and foremost, everyone makes wrong decisions and the purpose of this article is not to tell you the secret of always making the right decision, there is no secret. These suggestions, however, will help you minimize the chance of making the wrong decision.

There is not one shortcut to success but millions that lead to disaster.

One of the biggest problems in making decisions is for the decision maker to try and make a quick decision, often as quickly as possible. If you put unrealistic time frame on decision making, you are limiting your options and increasing your odds for failure

Increase your Option

The more options you look at to make your decision, the more chances you have to make the right decision. Without examing an array of options, how can you be sure that you are not only making the right decision but also the best decision.

Motives in Motion

What is your motivation, are they self-centered, are they inline with what the goal of what the decision is trying to accomplish. This requires brutal honesty with one's self.

Ask and Listen to Stakeholders

This not only includes those who have a financial stake in the decision but also those who will be involved in the implementation of the decision. Remember, without the support of those who will implement the decision, it is doomed for failure.

So remember when you are making your next decision; take no shortcuts, increase your options, check you motives and listen to the stakeholders.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Passive, Aggressive, Assertive

Last night in my Organizational Behavior class, we had an excersize and discussion on the importance of understanding what type of behavioral category you fall under, passive, aggressive or assertiveness. In all cases, everyone has characteristics of all three types of responses, however, the most effective response would be assertive.

After class I had a good conversation with my daughter because she asked me what we talked about in class. At this point I realized how important it is for parents to train their children in yet another area of socialization. Since my daughter is only 10, these concepts were a little difficult to relay to her so these were the definitions I used:

Passive - You let people walk all over you, you hardly ever stand up for yourself.

Aggressive - You are too confrontational with people, this ussually makes people think you are rude.

Assertive - You are able to stand up for your rights while not taking away someone else's rights. Being able to stand up for yourself tactfully while still remaining respectful of others.

Of course most of us know this, so this message serves as a reminder for you to spend some time in reflection of what actions do you exhibit most and how can you change them to better achieve your goals.