Imagination!

I was appalled by the Home Depot Annual Meeting fiasco—an unprecedented display of corporate arrogance. On the other hand, I am beside myself with glee at HD's new effort to add value through the imaginative provision of new Client services. Forbes (0918) reports on the Home Depot Business ToolBox ... a new package of services provided to its precious plumbers, electricians, carpenters, small homebuilders, etc. Included is more or less a customized, turnkey kit to support the businesses of these folks. For instance: payroll processing, credit card processing, personnel paperwork, shipping services, mobile phones, and the like. And then there is the most surprising-fabulous (as I see it) part of "and the like." HD is offering these quintessential small businessmen ... health insurance. Yup. Health insurance for the principals and their employees ... at Home Depot's highly discounted corporate group rates! I call all this the IBM Global Services "encompassing professional services" analog in the land of the Yellow Box.

(Will this be an automatic "big win"? Of course not. Hard work of a new sort will be required to pull it off. Nonetheless, it is wonderfully imaginative—and a very interesting part of CEO Bob Nardelli's longterm effort to provide ever more services to business and retail customers alike.)