Uncommon Service Blog

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Red Smith famously said, “writing is easy…you just sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.”  No one believed him like Frank McCourt.  We lost McCourt over the weekend, but not before he gave everything he had to his readers and students. McCourt didn’t stop the bleeding when he got up from the... more ►

Thursday, July 16, 2009
This post also appears on the official blog for the book In the River They Swim, a collection of essays about fighting poverty in the developing world.  The book "tells the story of change in the microcosms of emerging businesses, industries and governments." A healthy fraction of Kiva’s vibrant... more ►

Monday, July 13, 2009
United Airlines baggage handlers broke Dave Carroll's guitar.  Google United Airlines these days and two links dominate:  United's official site and a video of a song Carroll wrote called, "United Breaks Guitars."  The video has been watched over a million times. Carroll reports that he actually... more ►

Thursday, July 9, 2009
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Wendy Kopp, co-founder of Teach for America, gave an insightful answer to the question: What are you looking for in teachers you recruit? (Emphasis added below): We’ve done a lot of research on the characteristics of our teachers who are the most... more ►

Saturday, July 4, 2009
Let us revere the Declaration of Independence. --Abraham Lincoln It is usually somewhat presumptuous, even ridiculous, to bring up the unlikely birth of this nation.  Like Governor Sanford's reference to King David, invoking the Founding Fathers is typically self-serving and vaguely inappropriate... more ►

Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The NYT described some recent challenges at the Four Seasons.  Among them is healthy tension in the underlying business model, which separates asset ownership from service management.  The Four Seasons -- a management company that owns none of  its hotels – has expensive tastes.  And some owners'... more ►

Thursday, June 25, 2009
The governor has been found.  Governor Sanford was not, it turns out, hiking the Appalachian Trail. He was in Buenos Aires with “Maria,” a woman who is not his wife or the mother of his four sons. It is a familiar, human ending to a grim story.  Except for the B.A. part.  Great town, as Sanford... more ►

Monday, June 22, 2009
Customer goodwill is also difficult to measure -- or even define.  But we know it matters.  Certainly, it makes a difference to the top line.  Customers who like you are more likely to buy things from you and tell their friends about it.  They're also more likely to behave once they cross the... more ►

Wednesday, June 17, 2009
British Airways has asked its employees to work for free for a month.  As CNN reported, the airline sent an e-mail out to its staff that "offered workers between one and four weeks of unpaid leave -- but with the option to work during this period." How would this e-mail go over in your company? ... more ►

Tuesday, June 16, 2009
I started to write about Sarah Palin as a serious presidential contender -- not something people like to think about in this neck of the woods -- and then I found a piece from Roger Simon in Politico with better insight into Palin's candidacy than I was bringing to the table. Simon's advice to... more ►

Friday, June 12, 2009
President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has written a powerful piece for the Huffington Post that invites readers to have "A Different Discussion About Aid." He uses the occasion of the Peace Corps' return to Rwanda for the first time since the 1994 genocide to propose that we stop thinking about foreign... more ►

Sunday, June 7, 2009
Congratulations.  Figuring out how to spend her political capital sounds like the greatest job in the world right now. Approval is not the same thing as impact. Don’t hide the arms. They’re the reason I still make it to the gym periodically, and I think I speak for millions. Challenge the... more ►

Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I stumbled across this quote from Dee Hock, founder and former CEO of Visa, when I was first starting to think about the transformative power of leadership in the organizations around me.  I was in my first real managerial role at the time, and the truth embedded in these words struck me with the... more ►

Monday, June 1, 2009
Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana published an excellent article in the Harvard Business Review earlier this year about making management a true profession.  In one illustration of the disconnect between management and other professions, the article points out that while med school graduates take a... more ►

Friday, May 29, 2009
In a continuation of our series on commencement speeches, I wanted to share Ellen DeGeneres’s address to the “Katrina Class” at Tulane University this year.  DeGeneres is funny and playful, very funny at times, like when she reveals that she never attended college: "I’m not saying you wasted your... more ►