Archives: April 2006
Great article in current issue (April) of Business 2.0, titled "Best-kept Secrets of the World's Best Companies." Normally I dislike such stuff, but I think the odds in this case of finding something you can use are remarkably high. There are 25 ideas discussed. Among them: Toro's "Contra Team" that formally rebuts potential merger candidates; it in one instance led Toro to reject a hot $10 million acquisition candidate that was in fact a dud. Bloomberg's amazing offices. Corning's approach to R&D, utilizing outsiders. Southwest's hiring process ("The Job Audition"). W.L. Gore's peer-to-peer, almost hierarchy-free organizational processes—I was a pal of the late Bill Gore, and started writing about the company in A Passion for Excellence in 1985; but the approach is as fresh and provocative as ever; alas, the fact that it's still considered novel suggests how slow we are to adopt truly radical organizational reform. Urban Oufitters' support for partying on the company's nickel—that is, seeking out hot trends that can be translated into product. Etc.
The same issue of B2.0 offers "Bottom Line Design Awards." There is some great stuff, but my favorite (because it's so unexpected) is Target's "ClearRX Bottle"—a wonderfully clear and attractive and user-friendly pill package (no small deal, given that studies show that 60% of prescriptions are "taken improperly").
That brings to mind a wonderful and compelling book, Thomas Hine's The Total Package. E.g.: "Packages are about containing and labeling and informing and celebrating. They are about power and flattery and trying to win people's trust. They are about beauty and craftsmanship and comfort. They are about color, protection, survival."
Go back to Bloomberg: Sure it's an odd couple, but Space Design and Packaging are two of the most under-utilized, powerful tools for organization change and branding success respectively.
Design! Damn it!
Yesterday in Phoenix. The three content providers—Ken Blanchard, Marcus Buckingham, and Tom. (Ken B was Tom's roommate for a while at Cornell.) Photo credit to Ilse Dehner, LumaCore Events Manager.
One of the stops on Tom's circuitous route home is Phoenix. That's where he is today, appearing with Ken Blanchard and Marcus Buckingham, as part of a series presented by LumaCore, a company started by old friends of his from Lexington, KY.
While working on slides presentations for LumaCore, Tom made a new special PPT and updated an old one. They are part of the Long LumaCore PPT above, but they're also linked here as stand-alone presentations: Containerization—on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary—and Health: Century21.Job1 (updated today).
Our latest addition to the Cool Friends is Jeff Angus. A management consultant and baseball writer, his two passions unite in his book Management by Baseball: The Official Rules for Winning Management in Any Field, which will be in bookstores next week. His tactic of using baseball examples to illustrate solutions to business problems works—whether you're a baseball fan or not.
What Tom said: "Management by Baseball is a great baseball book and an insightful general management primer. Jeff Angus has written the book I wish I'd had in me.—Tom Peters, Lifelong Orioles fan ... occasional management guru"
Read the Cool Friend interview here.
Heathrow. 6A.M. 24 April. Back to the U.S.A. Feels good. (D.C. tomorrow, then Phoenix, then Orlando ... and VT on Friday!)
As airline and airport woes mounted, I frankly wondered what I was thinking when I agreed to go to Siberia. Well, now I know.
Every now and then, one feels that what one does is of some value. Last Friday in Novosibirsk (04.14) was one of those days. The air, as I previously posted, was at full-chill as I arrived. Not so the reception. I was welcomed effusively as I debarked Siberian Air from St Petersburg. And that welcome set the tone for an extraordinary couple of days.
I think I was the first, more or less, of "my sort" to make the trip to this large, mostly industrial city. Like the rest of Russia, hiccups notwithstanding, Novosibirsk-Siberia is moving at a brisk pace toward embracing free markets—and preparing to compete in our global village. (We're all next door neighbors, etc., etc., etc.) Thus the approximately 800 business folks who joined my interpreter (Ivan Komarov, a Russian sporting an economics Ph.D. from the University of Maryland) and me were anxious to go from the get-go.
I, as usual, while attempting to be mindful of cultural differences, did not offer a "simplified TP presentation"—to do so, I believe, would be insulting. I did focus a bit more on management "basics"—and liked the result so much that I plan to keep it up in my U.S. presentations. (There is a wretched tendency to keep complicating things, for the sake of self-amusement, to the point that the "eternal basics" disappear into the dust; that was one of the reasons for the "Irreducible209" I recently introduced.)
At any rate, the day sped by (last chapter of the presentation ended at 8pm, followed by a dinner) and attention-energy never flagged. Thanks to the skill and style of my interpreter, the day's sober if uplifting main message also had its full share of light moments—my description of our 1st grade drill of hiding under our desks to evade Soviet atom bombs drew a laugh, for instance; so, too, my attributing my arm-waving, shouting speaking style to Nikita Khrushchev.
Silly as it may sound, I honestly felt I left Novosibirsk having made more or less 800 fast friends—and having offered along the way a few modest suggestions and a generally spirited approach to altered enterprise practices. The audience was amazingly receptive, and apparently quite charged up. The proof, as always, is in the pudding—but as I departed for Rome I did so with a rare sense of satisfaction.