Uncommon Service Blog

Tuesday, September 22, 2009
In a recent article in the NYTimes, Linda Hudson described her first day on her job after being promoted to president at General Dynamics: ... I went out and bought my new fancy suits to wear to work and so on. And I’m at work on my very first day, and a lady at Nordstrom’s had showed me how to tie... more ►

Sunday, September 20, 2009
If you ever wonder how much exposure matters in your ability to influence people, Glenn Beck is as pure an experiment as you’ll find on the public stage. Beck is all heart, no head.  As much as he’s attacked for his words, his critics don’t get that his words don’t much matter. What does matter is... more ►

Monday, September 14, 2009
The NYT's Adam Bryant delivered an interesting interview with Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.  Blankfein offers some suggestions for leading in a crisis, which can be summarized as keep talking, to everyone, both to better inform your choices and to communicate changing conditions and... more ►

Tuesday, September 8, 2009
One way to describe my focus is "executive frustration."  People typically call me when their customers or employees aren't behaving the way they want them to, and I usually start hunting for clues in the blueprints of their service model. Customers and employees typically do exactly what an... more ►

Saturday, September 5, 2009
I want to revisit your discussion on feedback, Frances, because I think the topic often gets lost in the race to do things that feel more important organizationally. The ability and willingness to communicate honestly is often framed as a soft contribution, nice but not critical in these serious... more ►

Tuesday, September 1, 2009
The NYT described how the post office is responding to reduced demand as customers increasingly turn to alternatives for exchanging letters.  The action is late, arguably decades late, and not at all uncommon.  When organizations face limited competition (in the case of the post office, it was... more ►

Sunday, August 30, 2009
Solve other people's worst problems as a way to gain good will.  Len at Limited. Then create conditions for others to solve problems in a developmental way.  Set them up for success and let them learn that solving a problem means coming to a solution that works in the context of this organization... more ►

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I loved a quote I read recently in the NYT by Maigread Eichten, president and chief executive of FRS, a maker of energy drinks: One of the most memorable things one of my bosses at Pepsi told me was that if you really care about somebody, you give them constructive feedback. And if you don’t care... more ►

Sunday, August 23, 2009
The NYT recently published an article describing the growing phenomenon of job seekers giving up on traditional employment and deciding to start their own businesses.  Here's my advice to these first-time, "accidental" entrepreneurs. As I often tell my students, spend plenty of time upfront on the... more ►

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Alison Gopnik, a Berkeley psychology professor, described how babies learn in a recent NYT op-ed she provocatively titled, "Your Baby is Smarter Than You Think."  The article shot to the top of the paper's "most popular" list, partly for its challenge to the widespread investment in trying to get... more ►

Thursday, August 13, 2009
The NYT recently described an innovative new iPhone "app" that allows customers to use their phones to deposit a check.  Take pictures of the front and back of the check with the phone's camera, and then use its email function to send the pictures to USAA.  Now discard the check.  No trip to the... more ►

Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The WSJ wrote an article about the recent adoption of "lean thinking" at Starbucks.  Lean thinking is a philosophy popularized by Toyota's famous Toyota Production System (TPS) that emphasizes rooting out waste in its many forms.  At Toyota, waste might be excess inventory.  At Starbucks, waste... more ►

Monday, August 3, 2009
John Chambers, Chairman and CEO of Cisco Systems, recently recalled advice he received from Sandy Weill, which essentially supports the prescription to always search for common ground with people: "...when you’re interfacing with people who have dramatically different views from yours, you... more ►

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
The NYT recently did an article on the company Lululemon, which has been targeting the niche yoga market.  I had a strong reaction to the interview with the CEO, at the point where the reporter tries to understand why the company had branched out in surprising ways from yoga-related items: O.K.,... more ►

Sunday, July 26, 2009
How did a “post-racial” black president with extraordinary empathy, an exemplary police officer who specializes in racial profiling, and one of the country’s great scholars on race relations crash into each other on the topic of race? Maureen Dowd chalked it up to a “town vs. gown” clash of egos,... more ►