Friday, March 30, 2007

Customer "Not" Service

A lesson in what not to do in customer service... and a very good example how systems fail, not people...

I have been on the phone for over 72 minutes with Sony tonight. My new notebook died! No, it is really dead. The lights come on, but nobody is home. It didn't even reach it's first one month anniversary. Sony's response is unacceptable. I have talked to 4 different individuals as they continued to raise the status of my call. The first lady.. I am not sure she has used a computer.. and with each new person, I get a little more help. Course.. all I really need is for them to come fix it.. I bought the 2 year on site repair contract.. Now I am on hold again.. 75 minutes plus now. They are sending me to their contract repair agency.. Now I need another code.. and get this.. it is not on my computer anywhere.. ughh.. they can't help me.. till I get the code.. Very bad service.. 85 minutes and no luck.. I am quiting for the night..

This might be my last sony.....

Kay Yow - Heart and Soul

The NC State Alumni Magazine has an excellent interview with Kay Yow, head basketball coach of the Lady Wolfpack Basketball Team! This is a must read. In a sport where players often grandstand and slam dunks are what we see on the highlight reel... Kay Yow has quietly won over 700 games, led a team to gold in the Olympics, and accumulated numerous championships. And she did it all with humility and grace. Her latest honor, 2007 Naismith Women's Outstanding Contribution to Basketball, is no surprise!

Just to share a bit of what she gives to us all.. check out these quotes by Coach Yow:

On making a little more money by changing jobs:

"Bloom where you are planted"

On the importance of perspective:

"I don't think I've ever won a championship and didn't think, Count the towels" - (Even when you win, you have to count the towels you brought and make sure you take them home..

On leading others:

"Each Person is a unique individual. The same motivations don't work for every single person."

"The more you know them, the more you can help them."

"In the end, it is the relationships that matter. They are far above anything else because they continue for a lifetime."

On her battle with cancer...

"Don't let the urgent get in the way of the important"

" is a tough time, but roses are still out there. And don't wallow in self-pity."

"Run the race strong and press on..."

Kay.. run the race strong.. press on.. we will be with you... pulling for you along the way!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Creating Uniqueness by Divergence

The next time you are trying to demonstrate that your product or program is unique, take a lesson from the authors of Blue Ocean Strategy. In there exceptional book on how companies created markets where there is no competition, they share four principles of divergence:

Elimnate - What factors or qualities of your product, that the industry takes for granted, should be eliminated!

Take something away that is not critical to the success of the product. Cirque du Soleil got rid of the animals you would normally find in a circus. Not only did that reduce costs, it allowed them to create a new experience and did away with the myth that the circus was all about animals. Not only did they do away with the animals, they got rid of the star performers and aisle concession sales.

Reduce - What qualites of your product should be reduced well below the industry standard?

Southwest Air reduce the perks that you get when traveling. Things like seating choices, lounges, meals all were done away with to serve upa better price. Turns out most passengers did get upset. Yellow Tail wines did away with industry standards like vineyard prestige and branding and reduced the complexity of picking wine.

Raising - What qualities of your product should be raised well above the standard of the industry!

Yellow Tail wine raised the bar on the industry when they improved the involvement of retailers in the sale of their wine. Despite being a values (cheap) wine, through the use of many of these four strategies, they command a quality wine price. Cirque du Soleil began having events in unique and higher quality venues.

Creating - What factors or qualities could be created that the industry currently does not offer?

Southwest "pioneered the concept of point to point travel" when all other major airlines where using a hub and spoke system. The result was faster and frequent travel between two major cities. Unique at the time, now others like Jet Blue are using the same approach to take over valued markets like Atlanta to NY. Yellow Tail wine made it easier to select and drink wine. Cirque du Soleil brought qualities of theater to the circus.

So it is simple: Eliminate-Reduce-Raise-Create!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Head on a Stake Leadership

This is a post I pulled from my old blog... I plan to seed in some of my favorites from the past here on the new blog... Hope you enjoy this one.

King Kamehameha was the first to unite the islands of Hawai'i under one rule. The name Kamehameha (pronounced kuh-may-ha-may-ha) means "the one set apart." A great ruler, he also was not the heir to the throne on his own island, but through training and leadership, he ultimately lived as the greatest ruler of the Hawaii. If you study his legacy, there are several lessons that Business leaders can apply to today's world. Here is one of my favorites:

Forgive your Enemies. Culturally, in Hawai'i, rulers were known to destroy other leaders when the battles were over. It was often done in a very public way and with much ceremony... Head on a stake sort of way. But King Kamehameha was different from previous rulers . When he won a battle over a competing king, he would never rub salt in the wound. In some cases, he would actually give the opponent safe passage away, so that they could live another day. In turn, he was owed a debt that in many cases became a key factor in his ability to win future battles. What is the message for business today: Today's enemy might be tomorrow's partner. This works both internally and externally. Companies who compete today may through integration and mergers end up needing each other in 2-3 years. Likewise, the guy or gal across the way who is competing with your for that promotion, might make or break your career in three years.

There are other lessons to be learned from King Kamehameha... more another day..

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sticky Ideas

So your trying to sell your idea.. maybe it is a new way of doing things in the organization? Or maybe you are just trying to get a client to buy a new product? Either way, you might want to check out the new book by Heath and Heath called "Made to Stick." I am just starting it, but it lists six principles to remember when trying to "sell" your idea. Here are his principles.. and my take on them.

  • Simplicity - Keep your message short and sweet. No more than three points.. in 27 words or less.
  • Unexpectedness - Generate Interest and Curiosity. What about your idea if told, would get people to want to learn more?
  • Concreteness - Keep it Real. Loose the fancy words.. say what you mean.. use examples that make sense to all.
  • Credibility - Sticky ideas have to carry their own believability. Paint a picture that established the truth of your idea. For example, "This is your brain on drugs...."
  • Emotions - Make them feel something about your idea.
  • Stories - Since the age of time... we have told stories. Stories about heroes, the times, relationships, and love. Telling stories is how you connect your ideas to people. It is ultimately who you tell a simple, unexpected, real, believable, emotional idea...
These are some great principles. You can apply them to a host of leadership situations. Whether you are telling your vision for the organization, or coaching a subordinate.. you need your ideas to stick.. Using these six principles as a check system just might ensure success!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


This will be my first test of the new blog..