Monday, March 21, 2011

Beauty and the beast

Tina Brown's Newsweek has an interesting new back page feature -- a guest column called My Favorite Mistake. It's probably going to turn out to be a back-handed way for famous people to stroke their own egos. But I got a kick out of the inaugural column which featured this story from movie mogul Harvey Weinstein:

One of my all-time classics happened when I took a plane to England and ran into Kate Moss and Linda Evangelista on the flight. They were both dating friends of mine and couldn’t have been happier to see me. They wanted to initiate me, as I was a two-pack-a-day smoker, into their habit of smoking in the bathroom on the plane. So, whenever one of them was there, I got away with it. But the one time I tried it myself, I got caught. I said to the attendant, “When I smoked with Kate Moss, you never busted me,” and he replied with the magic words: “You are no Kate Moss.” Could there be a truer statement? They nearly arrested me, and I had to go to court and pay a small fortune for my the rest here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Customer experience reading list

I wrote a "knowledge review" discussing my picks for the essential books on the topic of customer experience that appeared in the Fall 2010 issue of strategy+business, but I forgot to mention it here. So, belatedly, here's the article opening set in my adopted home town, a link to the rest, and the book list:

Greetings from Williamsburg, Va., an outpost on the new frontier called the experience economy. Well, maybe not so new. John D. Rockefeller Jr., the only son of Senior, who was, of course, the founder of Standard Oil and an iconic figure in the rise of the unfettered industrial economy, began buying up this sleepy Tidewater town in the 1920s. Junior’s vision: Create a living museum that would protect the heritage of the United States and transport everyone who paid the price of admission back to the revolutionary 1770s to experience colonial life, right down to the horse manure.

Colonial Williamsburg, the restored capital of England’s Virginia colony, has attracted tens of millions of visitors since then, including long-reigning Queen Elizabeth II, who visited her ancestral fiefdom first in 1957 and again, 50 years later, in 2007. It also spawned an entirely new local economy based on feeding, lodging, and entertaining all those visitors and providing housing and services for people who found jobs there, as well as for former tourists who decided, as I did, that it would be a nice place to live. The entire greater Williamsburg area is a testament to the transformative power of a compelling customer the rest here

Here are the books covered in the article:
B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theatre and Every Business a Stage (Harvard Business School Press, 1999)

Bernd H. Schmitt, Experiential Marketing: How to Get Customers to Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and Relate to Your Company and Brands (Free Press, 1999)

Lewis P. Carbone, Clued In: How to Keep Customers Coming Back Again and Again (FT Press, 2004)

Leonard L. Berry and Kent D. Seltman, Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations (McGraw-Hill, 2008)

Lior Arussy, Customer Experience Strategy: The Complete Guide from Innovation to Execution (4i, 2010)

Gosia Glinska, James H. Gilmore, and Marian Chapman Moore, “The Geek Squad Guide to World Domination: A Case for the Experience Economy,” (Darden Business Publishing, 2009), DVD

Jeanne Bliss, Chief Customer Officer: Getting Past Lip Service to Passionate Action
(Jossey-Bass, 2006)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Management ala Google?

Adam Bryant wrote a good article in today's business section of The New York Times. It appears that Google, which has been promoting people into management based on their technical skills, ended up with a bunch of managers who were lousy at managing people. Go figure!

This situation gave rise to Project Oxygen, which sounds like a pretty exhaustive analytical study of Google employees aimed at discovering how they want their bosses to behave. The findings, as reported in the Times, revealed the following 8 behaviors in priority order:
  1. Be a good coach. Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and positive. Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees' specific strengths.

  2. Empower your team and don't micromanage. Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make stretch assignments to help the team tackle big problems.

  3. Express interest in team members' success and personal well-being. Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work. Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.

  4. Don't be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented. Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it. Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

  5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team. Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information. Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots. Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

  6. Help your employees with career development.

  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team. Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy. Involve the team in setting and evolving the team's vision and making progress towards it.

  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team. Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed. Understand the specific challenges of the work.

This all seems very basic, although it is worth noting that technical expertise came in dead last. But I wouldn't want to have to parse some of this advice. "Don't be a sissy?" Really? Nevertheless, Google says it bumped up the performance of three-quarters of its managers using these rules. Read the entire article here...