Breaking Down Template Thinking – Prioritization

Template thinking leads to under-prioritized laundry lists of to-do’s. If you’ve been in the business world for more than a few months then you have probably experienced the damage such thinking causes. Lots of work being done, nothing truly important to the organization being accomplished. Sound familiar? My favorite solution to this problem occurred in a senior management retreat for a major company. The Corporate President asked his team to put together a list of priorities for the coming fiscal year. The list that came back was a staggering 20 points long. He sent it back. “Shorten it.” It came back 18 points long. Every point strongly defended. Bob said, “Fine, we’ll go with this.” The list was carefully typed up. The first page included our mission and the first three priorities. The second page the other 15 priorities. His team approved the two pages. Bob then proceeded to forget … Continue reading

Strengthening The Relationship
Even When Things Go Terribly Wrong

I’m not easily impressed – especially when I feel as if everything is going wrong. But in the end I have to grudgingly tip my hat to ComEd’s Customer Service Group even though I’m sitting here with only half power 6 days after the storm. Did ComEd’s electronic response system make mistakes? Looks like it. Did individual ComEd reps make mistakes? Looks like it. Did the customer (me) make mistakes? Probably. First, about my problem – Why am I still at half power? Turns out an electrical spike fried my breaker box. Unfortunately, ComEd kept saying the power disruption was their issue until about 5 pm yesterday so I delayed calling an electrician. I’m writing this from a computer that is running off a series of extension cords strung from from a kitchen outlet that is also running my fridge and stove. I had never heard of half power before, … Continue reading

Creative Fire Extinguisher #8 – Everybody Knows

There is no greater enemy to uncommon opportunity than common knowledge. Years ago as head Easter Bunny for spring specialty products at Hallmark I was asked to redefine the business in a way that would start it growing again. As I put together what we knew about consumer behavior at Easter I came across an interesting tidbit that had been foundational to our thinking in the past and, to be honest, was a roadblock to what I wanted to do in the future. Everybody knew about this interesting tidbit. In their minds it was a fact. The tidbit appeared in business and marketing plans for as far back as my files went – without providing a source. I asked our librarian (oh, the benefits of big companies!) to see if he could dig up where it might have come from. He searched quite a bit and finally found a reference to the tidbit in a Hallmark … Continue reading

Continuing Tales Of A Yogurt Fanatic

As you may have read at the end of March, Dominick’s has turned me into a Yogurt Fanatic. This is not to say I enjoy yogurt more than I had before, it’s just that now I must make a separate trip to find the brand to which I had become attached (Lifeway Kefir). It’s been about two weeks and I’ve discovered Trader Joe’s. It’s a nice place. They have kefir. They also have baked pea pods (yum). To date I’ve made two trips for kefir, spent about $60 in doing so, and have found a store with a bunch of stuff I can’t find at Dominick’s. Who Cares? Back to shelf optimization and the trade-offs you end up making. Dominick’s missed why I shop their yogurt display. They didn’t get it. I now am buying all my yogurt elsewhere, other things as well. If there are only a few of me, Dominick’s probably … Continue reading