Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

Last night I finally had the opportunity to ask Alfred Josefsen, supermarket retailer Irma’s charismatic CEO, the one question I had been wanting to for a long time: “Why would your organization be missed if it ceased to exist?”. Well, it’s not the sort of question you just walk up to someone and ask. Sounds a bit morbid, perhaps. But the context was this. At an executive briefing attended by both of us we were all challenged with this one question to ask one other person in the room during the coffee break. The question is part of Jacob Bøtter’s NQ series and is also known as the obituary test.

Anyway, I (the naive, tree-hugging, time-warp hippie) was very pleased with Alfred’s answer. The world would miss a supermarket that wants to make a difference. That doesn’t go for the lowest (price) denominator and that wants to create experiences for their employees and customers alike (Irma always comes in among the top of the Best Places To Work list – and won it back in 2008). Alfred pointed to their exceptional culture and their passion to work with what they believe in. Decisions are made locally and employees have the freedom – and the obligation – to make decisions for themselves.

Hey, that answer was good enough for me.

Just got this email from LinkedIn founder and CEO Reid Hoffman. Cool! Nice gesture, Reid :)

I just retweeted a tweet by Rob Markey passed on by my colleague Jacob Bøtter that said “If every company built its discipline on the Net Promoter Score, the world would be a better place” – Graham Button #nps2011“.

Without going into the ins and outs of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) it’s a unique way to measure, not customer satisfaction, but customer loyalty. It starts with one simple question: “On a scale from 0-10 how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or a colleague?”. People answering 9 and 10 are promoters, 7 and 8 are passives and 6 and below are detractors. The stats prove it. Promoters are your ambassadors and allies; they actively and joyfully promote your company to friends, colleagues and family. Passives do none of all that and detractors actively engage in slandering your company.

We’ve used it for a while at Wemind and more than anything else it’s one of the best ways to engage everybody in dazzling our customers. It really changes behavior – and it starts with the employees. Said John Mackey, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market: “Business is simple. Management’s job is to take care of employees, The employees’ job is to take care of the customers. Happy customers take care of the shareholders. It’s a virtuous [not a vicious] circle.”

Being involved in impressing customers and exceeding their expectations is such a rewarding activity that it has the potential to inspire and motivate us to whole news levels. Knowing that the customer will feel the same, will indeed make the world a better place.

Values that matter

Posted: September 21, 2010 in Company culture, Motivation
Tags: , ,

My good friend Rasmus is heading up a small digital media company, Contentcube, in Copenhagen. They are by no measure a big company, but that’s actually part of the charm in what I’m about to tell you.

Recently I asked Rasmus what really differentiates them from other similar companies. The answer had nothing to do with superior skills (although I can tell it’s there in abundance) or bleeding edge technologies. Instead he said that they always do what they say they’ll do – and in their business it translates into ”on time and on budget – always”. A pretty simple differentiator and yet it’s where most competitors fail (trust me, I know) and guess what: Failure to stay on time and on budget is the number one frustration factor for customers. It’s what pushes customers away.

So how do they do it? What makes them better than anyone else? To answer that question let me tell you how they recently celebrated a successful year. Rather than just paying out big bonuses or throwing a party, they decided to relocate the whole company to Berlin for the entire month of August (which you have the privilege of being able to do if you’re a digital media company). Why did they do that? Well, for starters Berlin, to Copenhageners, is the quintessentially cool place to go if you want edge, inspiration and spot new trends. And by moving everyone for a whole month they created that good old holiday camp atmosphere, which, in a new and unique way, brought people together and created strong bonds. When I recently mentioned this to Guy Kawasaki he said, “What a great story”.

But how do they do it on a daily basis? Well, this post was inspired by a conversation I had with Rasmus yesterday. He’d been collecting good customer stories for a while and had realized that magic would arise whenever a customer was impressed by something a Contentcube employee had done. Right down to the little things such as suggesting small improvements which the customer hadn’t expected or finishing tasks or jobs early. It’s not unlike the Zappos core value of always aiming to wow their customers – and it’s the exact opposite of the commonplace “just good enough” attitude you find in so many companies. Always aiming to impress customers, walk the extra mile, try harder and wow customers, inspires employees to be proud of and passionate about what they do. And pride and passion are the cornerstones of a great company.

Contentcube now has “aim to impress customers” as one of their key targets – and it’s something they’ve started measuring. Thumbs up for that and good luck to Rasmus and his team moving forward!

For more inspiration about measuring what makes life worthwhile, check out this Chip Conley TED talk:

We had been struggling with our dishwasher for a while. Plates, forks and knives came out dull (and not at all clean and shiny the way they were supposed to). It really is a major pain in the neck. I don’t know about you, but with these kind of things I always feel it’s my own damned fault – for not rinsing the plates properly, for not using the right kind of soap, for not adding enough salt (or using the right kind of salt), dishwasher rinse, water hardness settings and what not. You get the picture.

It’s one of those things in life where you really have to rely on an expert, although in the past I have always felt somewhat at loss with dishwasher service technicians – not that we’ve had a steady flow of them – but I’ve always felt they either didn’t give a toss about me as a customer, just wanted to get the job done and out the door as soon as possible or needed to charge me an outrageous fee for something they couldn’t even bother explaining to me.

In the end we had to call Bosch (the manufacturer) and so we set up an appointment. And this is where I was taken by surprise. I’d expected the usual anonymous, know-it-all, couldn’t-care-less kind of chap, but instead this real pro showed up. I won’t bother you with all the technical details, but let me say this: After 20 minutes I felt like an expert. I really rarely come across the kind of person who displays such pride and commitment in his job – in a genuine, not over-the-top kind of way. While he was working, he explained to me about the latest generation of low-energy dishwashers, properties of different types of soaps, the workings of salt, the importance of rinsing and dishwasher life expectancies. In the end I started to feel a bit emotional towards our 6 year old dishwasher…

Anyway, the message is this: The service technician, by simply enjoying and being proud of his work, had a dramatic, positive influence on my perception of Bosch, his employer. In fact, if you asked me right now, I wouldn’t dream of buying another brand, which brings me to my last point: A great company brand is a result of a great company culture, which in turn produces inspired employees, who wow customers. You really can’t fake it.

Oh, and by the way, the dishwasher runs like a Rolls-Royce now!

I came across this fantastically inspiring speech, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, delivered by Simon Sinek at TED last year. It blows my mind that something so obvious (Sinek’s golden circles) is so hard to accomplish. Major credits to Simon for decoding the principles by which all great leaders communicate, whether they’re business people, politicians, activists or companies.

Sinek uses Apple, the Wright brothers and Martin Luther King as examples, but he could just as well have used Jamie Oliver, who is a true inspiration to follow, watch and listen to. He gave his TED speech (below) in February after receiving the TED prize. Jamie’s *why* is that he is “transforming the way we feed ourselves, and our children”. He uses words like “I want to revolutionize”, he is authentic and he is passionate. I suppose (no, I know, because my better half, Kerry, is a passionate food blogger on foodytwoshoes.com) there are thousands of other famous chefs out there, many probably more skilled than Jamie, but no one has defined their mission as clearly, inspiringly and with such integrity as The Naked Chef.

His is a cause worth fighting for. It evokes strong emotions in people. In fact how often do speakers at TED receive standing ovations?

Who else has a *why* worth fighting for?

Last year I wrote about motivation and Daniel Pink’s Ted video in which he revealed the blatant discrepancy between what science knows and what business does. I was puzzled because I, too, had been lulled into believing in sticks and carrots – so-called extrinsic motivation, which just doesn’t work and in many cases might even be counter-productive.

I promised myself to start looking for evidence of Pink’s assertions and, man, did I find it. My guess is I have had at least 100 conversations about motivation since then: With business leaders, parents, colleagues, my wife, my kids and teachers. I also recently finished reading Daniel Pink’s new book “Drive” and I was pleased to discover that it’s truly an abundance of wisdom about motivation – what motivates, what doesn’t, toolkits, suggested readings and a whole lot more. Highly recommended.

Here’s a 40-minute video in which Pink talks about intrinsic motivation based on “Drive”. Please let me know what you think motivates.