“Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.” – Unknown

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Can, Must, Should

Just want to capture this thought before I lose it:

When dealing with customers and "unusual" situations in business, you must make a decision about what to do.

  • You can do what you "must" do, based on contracts, agreements, legalities
  • You can do what you "can" do, which may be the best you can do
  • You can do what you "should" do, based on what feels right and what you would want if you were the customer
Tags:  thoughtsbusiness
Posted under: The Business World • by Rick on 05/15/2013 at 09:48 AM
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Business Constituents

Many modern business texts used in MBA programs will tell you the "purpose of a business is to maximize shareholder value."

I think teaching that to tomorrow's managers and leaders is a bit misleading, and maybe misguided.

A business exists to meet the needs of three key constituencies:

  • Customers
  • Employees
  • Owners

It is important that a business has a strategy to meet all constituents' needs.

Read on for my thoughts.


Tags:  businessthoughts
Posted under: The Business World • by Rick on 02/26/2013 at 11:23 AM
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Saturday, December 03, 2005

There is a Lesson Here Somewhere

The other day I was returning from a business trip to the Bay Area and had some extra time in the San Francisco Airport. So, I decided to eat dinner in a seafood restaurant that is just behind security in Terminal 3. I can’t remember the name, but you can’t miss it. They have excellent food—a rarity for airport restaurants.

I was seated, given a menu, offered a drink, and had the daily specials described to me by a competent and helpful Indian waiter. He was helpful without being pushy, polite, and didn’t bother to bother me with his name. In summary, he provided good service. I ordered, he brought my glass of wine and I settled in to read a few pages of my paperback novel while waiting for my food.

After a minute, the same waiter seated a distinguished-looking British man next to me and went through the same routine with him. The man ordered, after hearing the specials, and then said to the waiter, “Thank you for your excellent service. You really are a great waiter and provide great service.”

I was a bit surprised. Sure, the guy was a good waiter, but did he really warrant that kind of praise? Especially before the food or drink was even delivered?

The British man left his table to go to the restroom. The waiter immediately came to his table, adjusted the condiments on the table, noticed that the table was slightly unlevel, used a piece of cardboard from his order ticket book to level the table, and refolded the man’s napkin. Throughout the meal, the British man got extraordinary service. Now, the service was really good to start with, but his service was even better. His water glass was always full, his wine glass topped up. An empty plate disappeared without fuss. The service was kind of invisible, but very present at the same time.

I observed all this smiling to myself, knowing there was a lesson here somewhere. Perhaps it was that people will rise to perform at the level of your expectations. Perhaps it was that reward is a better motivator than punishment. Perhaps it was just that nice people get better service. I don’t know for sure what the lesson is, but I will be sure, in the future, to compliment an obviously competent waiter or waitress early in the meal instead of at the end!

Tags:  business
Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know!The Business World • by Rick on 12/03/2005 at 10:24 AM
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Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Road Warrior Stories

If you hang out around people that travel a lot you will hear a lot of “road warrior” stories—missed planes, no hotel reservation, long layovers, lemon rental cars, etc.

I have a new road warrior story to add to my collection.

I was in Germany last week. On Friday, I was scheduled to fly home. I had a flight from Stuttgart to Frankfurt, a little over an hour layover, then a direct Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt to Denver. I really like this non-stop flight between Denver and Frankfurt. It only takes about 10 hours, the service with Lufthansa is good, and there is internet on the plane!

In Stuttgart, I went to the Lufthansa check-in counter to check my bags and check in for the flights. The lady there looked me up on the computer to find my eTicket and claimed that while I was confirmed on the flight from Stuttgart to Frankfurt, I was not on any Lufthansa flight back to the US. Upon further searching, she claimed I was on a United flight to Chicago with a subsequent connection to Denver. (I had been booked that way at one time, but changed to the direct flight many weeks earlier.)

I pulled out my printed itinerary and showed it to her. I clearly showed I was on the direct Lufthansa flight. But, she trumped me with her computer screen which clearly showed me on the United flights. I finally stopped arguing with her and let her check me and my luggage on the United flights. However, she could not give me my boarding passes—I’d have to get those at the gate in Frankfurt.

Upon arriving in Frankfurt, I ran to the United gate. I had a little trouble with security since I did not have a ticket or boarding pass or even a printed itinerary that showed I was on the United flight. But, the luggage receipt was enough to finally convince them to let me proceed to the gate. Once there, United could not find me on their system. I was not ticketed on the United flights! They did some research and discovered that I was, in reality, booked on the non-stop Lufthansa flight!

By now it was too late to try to move between terminals. So I begged United to let me on their flight. They put me on standby, and after a brief wait confirmed me on the flight to Chicago (where I was still on standby for the flight to Denver). I got a really bad seat, but the flight was good and I arrived in Chicago safe and sound. I managed to get on the connecting flight to Denver and arrived there about 4 hours later than I had planned. Luckily, I was able to contact Lynne and have her pick me up at the later arrival time.

The following week, I was telling this story to a colleague who had been on the same trip, but who caught the direct Lufthansa flight. It turns out they had engine trouble, had to change out the plane in Frankfurt, and left about 4 hours late! I actually got home earlier than he did. Must have been fate.

Tags:  business
Posted under: The Business World • by Rick on 11/15/2005 at 11:28 AM
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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

The Parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant

This parable by John Godfrey Saxe is familiar to all, I’m sure. I stumbled across it the other day, and while familiar, I thought it would be fun to remind you of it here!


Tags:  business
Posted under: Stuff You Gotta Know!The Business World • by Rick on 10/22/2003 at 10:56 AM
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