Archives For July 2012

I just completed reading Carmine Gallo’s book “The Apple Experience: Secrets to Building Insanely Great Customer Loyalty”. This is an excellent book that serves as a roadmap for leaders who want to a create great customer experiences by defining a compelling customer based purpose that engages employees.

This book has had a tremendous impact on how I think about Purpose and how to engage employees.

In the words of Ron Johnson Apple’s former Senior Vice President of Retail Operations, “the most important component to the Apple experience is that the staff isn’t focused on selling stuff. Its focused on building relationships and trying to make people’s lives better”. Most national media credits the success of Apple Retail to product and in-store design. However the real success is that Apple Store Employees are trained, personable and passionate about the brand.

Apple developed a simple “Purpose” that defined their relationship with customers and engaged employees. Their purpose is “Enriching Lives”.

Apple understands that people want to be inspired. They want to work toward a higher purpose and to feel good about themselves and the brands they work for. Apple Retail touched the lives of their employees before it touched the lives of their customers. The Apple secret is to attract and engage passionate employees in support of a Purpose they feel good about.

In your opinion, who offers the best customer service experience in the world?
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Cooperstown is a unique place that combines small town charm, with world class attractions, a beautiful lake and a “Main Street Way of Life”. For me every time I visit Cooperstown it is a “WOW’ experience.  In his book “Platform.” Michael Hyatt describes a WOW experience as having some combination of the following elements: Surprise, Anticipation, Resonance, Transcendence, Clarity, Presence, Universality, Evangelism, Longevity and Privilege.
This  past weekend Cooperstown was in the national spotlight with the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For me, it is time to reflect on this unique place.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to to visit Cooperstown for a conference and experience the beauty of Otsego Lake, the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame, a walk down Main Street and the Fenimore Art Museum. I was in awe at how Cooperstown delivered so many elements of a “WOW” experience. For me visiting Cooperstown is always a surprise that exceeds my expectations, in way that touches my heart and that is timeless. After visiting Cooperstown, i feel a renewed sense of purpose.
Can you name a place that always exceed your expectations?

My mother was born in 1927 and is 84 years old. She is a charter member of the “Silent Generation” the label given to people born between 1925-1945. She fell today and broke her shoulder and will be hospitalized and then in rehab for a couple of weeks. My mom has slowed down physically in recent years, but continues to be strong mentally demonstrating an independent and feisty spirit. The “Silent Generation” grew up during challenging times which included The Great Depression and World World II. They were tested at a young at a young age.

While not an outspoken leader, I have learned valuable leadership lessons from my mother. Mom stressed the importance of family and never neglecting your family for business. She also demonstrated how to be strong despite adversity in her life. Seven of her brothers and sisters and my father have passed away within the past 20 years She also won a battle with cancer 17 years ago when the experts gave her nine months to live.

What leadership lessons have you learned from your parents?

In his book Leading with Purpose: The New Corporate Realities, Richard Ellsworth developed a central idea that a customer focused corporate purpose provides the key to outstanding performance and to enhancing the lives of those the company services and of those who serve it.

The leaders of great companies understand that providing value to customers not the maximization of shareholder wealth – is why their organization exists. This customer focused purpose is key to their companies outstanding purpose.
Amazon, Zappos, Wegmans and Southwest are examples today of successful companies who have discovered and lived a strong customer focused purpose.
A customer focused purpose has a positive impact on the motivation and commitment of employees, on corporate strategy and on the way the company is managed through strategy, goals, and values.
Can you name a customer focused company that has delivered outstanding performance in recent years?

It is critical for brands today to deliver a remarkable product and service experience that can be described as “WOW” in order to stand out to consumers and to deliver on a customer focused purpose.

A couple of weeks ago, I attended a conference at The Hilton Hotel which is located across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. This was my first opportunity to see the Oriole Park at Camden live This year is the 20th anniversary of the opening of Camden Yards. The Orioles played the Angels that evening. For me, as a lifelong baseball fan this was a WOW experience.  Oriole Park is the Stadium that forever changed baseball in a positive way by helping baseball return to its authentic roots and providing fans with a “WOW” experience.
In his book “Platform.” Michael Hyatt describes a WOW experience as having some combination of the following elements:
•    Surprise – always exceeds our expectations. It creates delight, amazement, wonder or awe
•    Anticipation – anticipating a WOW experience is almost as good as the experience
•    Resonance – touches the heart
•    Transcendence – you experience purpose
•    Clarity –  creates a moment when you see things more clearly
•    Presence –  creates timelessness
•    Universality – nearly universal
•    Evangelism – has to be shared
•    Longevity – The shine never wears off
•    Privledge – Makes you proud in a good way
Question: When have you been involved with “WOW” experience provided by a brand?

Today Purpose drives Strategy

Successful leaders have changed their approach to strategy development and planning. Gone are the days of a few smart people at a 3 day offsite with even smarter analysts at their side developing strategy and implementation structures. Leader have moved away from the old approach of strategy, structure and systems to a more collaborative organic model built on the development of purpose, process and people.

The strategy development approach of the past was flawed because it was grounded in the objective of minimizing human error, a defensive approach. This worked well for large industrial organizations but began to fall apart as the world changed and employees desired empowerment, meaning and an emotional connection to the work they do. Employees began to ask “Why” as opposed to just following orders or implementing mechanical standard operating procedures
In most companies people no longer care why their companies are. But strategies can enable strong emotional attachment only when they are embedded in a broader organizational purpose
Leaders engaged their organizations through rational logic, analysis and strategic intent. Leaders were often obsessed with competition. However, this failed to engage or inspire the organization. Young associates began to ask an important question WHY?
An effective Purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work – it taps their idealistic motivations and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money
Does your company have a clearly stated purpose that drives your strategy?
Purpose is a definitive statement about the difference you are trying to make. It is the organization’s fundamental reason for being. It is a combination of vision, mission and values. Purpose reflects the importance people attach to a company’s work and it speaks to the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond making money.
In recent months, I have been studying the qualities of successful leadership organizations and discovered the importance of purpose as a tool for guiding people in the right direction so that they can achieve results for the organization,team and themselves.
Not all companies have a Purpose – but enduringly successful ones do. Purpose is the guiding beacon of successful organizations.
A strong purpose can help recruit passionate people to your organization. An organization with a strong sense of purpose
Some examples of corporate purpose statements include:
  • Southwest Airlines – “To give people the freedom to fly”
  • BMW – ” To enable people to experience the joy of driving
  • AARP – “To champion positive social change that will enhance the quality of life for all as we age
To quote Peter Drucker on the importance of purpose, “That business purpose and business mission are so rarely given adequate thought is perhaps the most important cause of business frustration and failure.”
Question: Does your organization have a clearly defined purpose that employees live everyday?