I use the TripIt app to coordinate the logistics of my travel. It recently had an upgrade. Typically after you install something like this, a button appears and you click “OK”. Not so with TripIt. Their post-install page listed the new features and the button said “Brilliant”. Sure, it’s a minor and subliminal thing, but nonetheless, you are acknowledging that the upgrade you just did was a good one. Why don’t more of us utilize routine functions to set ourselves apart and be memorable? The next time you are doing a form or implementing a process, try to be ‘brilliant’ instead of just ‘ok’.
Want a good example of how a product can adapt with the times? Look at Cracker Jack.
The product once known as “candy coated popcorn, peanuts and a prize (…that’s what you get in Cracker Jack)” has come to describe itself as “caramel coated popcorn”, apparently a more PC term for the health conscious.
The boxes still contain a prize — in my case, an Atlanta Braves sticker — a far cry from the actual 3-D prizes of my youth, but a nod to brand names and the allure of something recognizable.
It also allows you to “download fun, authentic Cracker Jack prizes to your smartphone” (at crackerjackapp.com). Actually, what you download are two different games you can play on your phone. Cracker Jack has always been associated with games, originally little plastic mazes that you rolled a tiny bearing through, so it seems appropriate that they morph into sponsoring electronic games now.
So here they are, 120 years later, still with popcorn coated in sugary-stuff, peanuts and a game-related prize. They have evolved, but not so much that the surprise inside is inconsistent with who they are or what you would expect. All in a box that brings back all the feelings of nostalgia for everyone who grew up with the sailor and puppy as a treat.
If someone saw your organization in the past and then looked at it now, what would be the same and what would be different? It is a good thing for there to be some of both.
As I wrote yesterday, Twitter may be having impact on service transactions across the land. It also is influencing the type of creative output that is produced. Josh Groban, known for his easy listening vocals and opera, recently released a new album of showtunes and pop hits. The lineup even includes a duet with country star Kelly Clarkson. He deviated from his normal fare in part because of Twitter. “There needs to be more risk taking out there,” Groban told Time. “Things like Twitter and the blogosphere are so instantaneously critical that it’s actually created a culture of artistic fear to branch out too much because you don’t want to be slammed.” Not all of us have work that is noteworthy on Twitter. Our next project likely won’t come with a release party and media reviews. Yet we are often as cautious as if they were. What can you do today to take some risks in your work? Can you take some incremental steps to push your thinking in a new direction? Take advantage of the relative anonymity that you operate in and try something different today.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Quick Talk with Josh Groan by Nolan Feeney in Time, May 11, 2015, p. 60
It appears that it is not easy enough to order a pizza by phone or to fill out a quick form on line. Now Domino’s is offering a service where customers can tweet their order, and if you are a regular customer you can just tweet the pizza emoji and your favorite pie will be delivered to your door. Domino’s is the first to experiment with emoji-ordering, but not the first to use tweets for transactions. Twitter is intentionally trying to move itself from a social network to a place where commerce is conducted. Old Navy and AMC Theaters have tested using tweets with a “buy now”option. Charities have already used texts to accept donations after tragedies. Think of the service implications this could have for you. Students, the target of Domino’s ordering system, already don’t want to fill out the 20 questions on an admissions application or even the 5 questions on an inquiry card. Maybe instead they will now just want to tweet us the graduation cap emoji and have us count that as an intent to enroll? You may not be in the pizza business, but Domino’s foray into emoji-ordering could put pressure on you to simplify how customers access your services. You may not be able to offer a customized emoji (yet), but you may want to modify your processes to more closely replicate that option.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Source: Domino’s to roll out tweet-a-pizza by Bruce Horowitz, USA Today, May 14, 2015, p.5B
A friend was telling me about a new cupcake store. Instead of a large selection of flavored cakes, they offer a modest sampling of the staple offerings. Their niche is that you get to choose from among the many flavors of frosting, and then move down the line to determine whether to adorn your cupcake with sprinkles, etc. It caused me to think about the evolution of the assembly line. When Henry Ford first deployed it, the goal of the assembly line was to standardize things. Today, many businesses utilize a modified assembly line to allow customers to personalize things. Think about all the ways we move “through the line”, giving individual choices at each station. The cupcake example mentioned above. Chipotle and other design-your-own Mexican restaurants. Subway and their sandwich artists. Build-a-Bear Workshops with personalized stuffed animals. The virtual assembly lines of designing a computer for on-line purchase or even choosing elements of your next car. More and more transactions are able to be customized through you giving step-by-step preferences to someone assembling the item for you. And the more people design their own burrito, the more they will want input into how they design what you offer. Henry Ford’s adage of cars being available in “any color you want, as long as that color is black” is as outdated as the Model T. How can you incorporate this trend into your organization? Can you provide an element of choice at several “stops” along the way? The assembly line is moving; you need to be in motion too.
A few years ago, a well meaning Eagle Scout candidate installed landscaping around the sign welcoming people to our city. It looked beautiful and was a great improvement over the sign which had been sitting solo on a plain concrete base.
Fast forward to now, and the rock area in front of the sign has as many weeds as rocks. The plants around the base are interspersed with overgrowth, and, all in all, it looks pretty shabby.
This sign project, as with many similar propositions, took all the details of the present into account but forgot to plan for the future. Nothing lives on without attention and care: not sign landscaping, an organization, a democracy or any project you spearhead.
“The end” only happens in fairy tales. Keep the weeds in mind the next time you make plans. On-going maintenance isn’t sexy, but it is what keeps your project living on in glory after the initial roll-out phase.
Someone recently shared with me this transcript of an actual radio conversation of a US naval ship with Canadian authorities off the cost of Newfoundland in October, 1995. It seemed to fit both the leadership and Memorial Day theme: Americans: Please divert your course 15 degrees to the North to avoid a collision. Canadians: Recommend you divert YOUR course 15 degrees to the South to avoid collision. Americans: This is the Captain of a US Navy Ship. I say again, divert YOUR course. Canadians: No…I say again, you divert your course. Americans: THIS IS THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER USS LINCOLN, THE SECOND LARGEST SHIP IN THE UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET. WE ARE ACCOMPANIED BY THREE DESTROYERS, THREE CRUISERS, AND NUMEROUS SUPPORT VESSELS. I DEMAND THAT YOU CHANGE YOUR COURSE 15 DEGREES NORTH, THAT’S ONE FIVE DEGREES NORTH, OR COUNTER-MEASURES WILL BE UNDERTAKEN TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE SHIP. Canadians: This is a lighthouse…Divert YOUR course. How many times have you acted like the Captain and failed to listen or ask questions? Before your words or deeds become the equivalent of ALL CAPS, take the time to understand the perspective of the other person. Humble Pie tastes much better than Crow.
— beth triplett leadershipdots.blogspot.com
Radio conversation released by the Chief of Naval Operation 10-10-95 as shared by Bill Mauss.
I recently saw a sign for a pawn shop that has been in business since 1941. That is a long time for any establishment these days, but I was especially struck by how the world has changed for that line of work. Think about how this market has changed since 1941. Craigslist, eBay and a host of other sites offer options to sell goods, but only the pawn broker treats the transaction as a loan. It is probably what has allowed it to survive for 75 years. At their core, pawn shops are a loan business — giving cash while holding personal property as the collateral. I wonder how many people come to reclaim/repurchase their items — or how many even intend to. Is it just a service to sell items or do people really see it as a short term loan?
Think about how your business or organization will adapt to survive far into the future. You can’t even imagine the changes, but you can keep your core in mind. There will always be someone that needs to put his treasure in hock for a short period. Will there always be someone who needs what you provide?
If you’re like many people, you will make a trip to Walmart or Sam’s Club this weekend. Both establishments have a position that is officially known as a “people greeter”, but they also have the task of checking receipts of those exiting. In theory, this is a good idea. In practice, it is a waste of my time and their money. Earlier this week, I visited Walmart and my cart contained items from three totally separate orders. We handed the clerk a receipt for only one. Just out of convenience not malice, it was the one with the fewest and smallest items on it. We passed without a query. Look at this cart: cases of pop, multiple bags and yet a receipt with insoles and Gatorade gets us a free pass out the door. What sense does that make?
I am all in favor of monitoring purchases to keep everyone’s prices down, but a quasi-check without any diligence is just adding to costs, not loss prevention. If you are going to add a step to your processes, make sure that it adds value — in reality, not just in a policy manual.
If, as I described yesterday, your charity of choice doesn’t hold a fund raising event, it seems that the next most preferred option is to host a silent auction. For as many of these as I have attended, you would think I would have learned by now that these two things are mutually exclusive: a) you can bid low until the very, very end and think that you are going to get something for a bargain OR b) you can bid high and be the winner to actually obtain the item I have come to believe that you can’t bid low and win, even if you are lured into thinking you can for all but the last minute of the event. Silent auctions are a metaphor for organizational change. You strategize. You plan. You have the best of intentions. And in the end, change often happens in a way that you did not expect. More often than not, some external force intervenes and you have a different outcome than you prepared for. It helps to know this, and to adjust your mindset — and your bidding — accordingly.