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The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor’s Iconic Bookstore Mural

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Ann Arbor’s The Bookstore Mural is a famous outdoor mural by artist Richard Wolk located on the corner of Liberty Street and State Street in downtown. The mural is an Ann Arbor emblem and one of the city’s most prominent pieces of public art.

The work, sometime ago known as the Bookstore Mural, was painted in 1984 when David’s Books occupied the corner of Liberty Street and State Street. A Potbelly Sandwich store presently is housed in the building.

Bloomfield Hills-based Richard Wolk, who graduated from the University of Michigan, contacted the management at David’s Books (which closed in 2011) in early 1984 on the subject of replacing a preceding bookstore-related mural with something a bit more fun: actual authors. He started work in March 1984 and completed it in June 1984.

According to a feature in the July 8, 1984 issue of the Ann Arbor News,

The mural certainly rebels against bare cement, but whether it’s an artisitic rebellion is, well, unclear.

Larger than life, the giants of literature beckon passersby into David’s Books, the owner of which commissioned the mural.

Is the mural a billboard, a clever advertisement for the books and ideas behind the wall? Perhaps partly, but to Ed Koster, the owner of the bookshop, who hired the artist, the mural is “aesthetic.”

“I like the portraits themselves,” he said, “but I would have preferred a different background.” The background is in two parts: a starry night sky above a field a flowers.

The Fascinating History of Ann Arbor's Iconic Bookstore Mural

Measuring about 60 feet by 20 feet, the mural portrays the headshots of five cultural icons, whose work was familiar to the artist Richard Wolk.

  • Woody Allen: the American film director, scriptwriter, and actor. Allen has starred in most of his own films, many of which have won Oscars and which hilariously survey themes of psychosis and sexual shortcomings. Artist Wolk chose Woody Allen because of the proximity of the mural to Ann Arbor’s historic Michigan Theater and State Theater.
  • Edgar Allan Poe: the American short-story writer, poet, and critic whose fiction and poetry are Gothic and characterized by their examination of the gruesome and the bizarre.
  • Hermann Hesse: the German-born Swiss novelist and poet whose written works reflect his concern in spiritual Eastern values and his enthusiasm for Jungian psychoanalysis.
  • Franz Kafka: the Prague-born Czech German-language novelist, who wrote in German whose written works portray of an mysterious and terrifying realism where the individual is apparent as lonesome, confused, and defenseless.
  • Anais Nin: the French-American writer whose first novel House of Incest (1936) evokes haunting images of love, lust, desire, emotion, and pain. Wolk selected Anais Nin because his 1984 girlfriend liked Nin’s writing.

The Bookstore Mural has also been called The Poet Mural, Liberty Street Mural, and East Liberty Street Wall Mural.

In 2010, the mural gained significant media attention as the original painter was hired to touch it up, 26 years after he originally painted it.

The Bookstore Mural was represented in the official movie posters for the 2011 film, Answer This, which was mainly filmed in various locations around Ann Arbor—the setting is the University of Michigan.

The famous mural is also one of the most prominent public places for the setting of wedding pictures.

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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Marissa Mayer’s Tardiness at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Tardiness has a detrimental effect on the organization. Tardiness is a display of disrespect. Establishing ground rules, documenting violations, using an official discipline process and identifying larger workplace issues can go a long way toward correcting issues with executive tardiness.

Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

The other factor compounding Mayer’s coldness was that she had the awful habit of being late, all the time.

Every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. California time, Mayer’s staff would gather for a three-hour meeting with the boss. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6:00 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11:00 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Inevitably, Mayer would show up at least forty-five minutes late. Some calls started so late that Yahoo’s executives in Europe didn’t hang up till after 3:00 a.m. their time. Mayer had approximately two dozen people reporting to her during her first year at Yahoo. In theory, she was keeping up with each of them in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. In practice, she would go weeks without talking to people because she was so busy.

For a while, each of those two dozen people thought that Mayer was just picking on them, individually. The people who had been at Yahoo before Mayer joined assumed that this meant she was going to fire them soon. The people Mayer had hired into the company, including HR boss Jackie Reses and CMO Kathy Savitt, were even more puzzled. Why had they been hired only to be ignored?

But then, during one of those long waiting periods after 3: 00 p.m. on a Monday, a conversation unfurled that revealed all. Making small talk, one executive said to another: “Did she cancel one of your one-on-ones again?”

A third jumped in: “Oh my God, she does that to you, too?” It turned out that everyone in the room and on the call had been canceled on by Mayer, frequently.

Mayer was also constantly late to product reviews. The meeting would be scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and around 2:15 p.m., Mayer’s assistant, Trish Crawley, would come out and say, “Really sorry. She’s going to be late. We’re not sure when she’ll get here.” Then it would 3:00 p.m. and then 4:00 p.m., and then Crawley would come out and say the meeting was canceled.

The standard joke was that if you had a review with Mayer, you should expect not to know when it was going to be and that it would change at the last minute. It was annoying for people who worked in Sunnyvale. It was brutal for remote teams in India and Europe.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Seven Innovation Rules for Microproducts & Low-Cost Design

  • Seven Innovation Rules for Microproducts & Low-Cost Design Understand the problem your product needs to solve. You can do this by bringing customers into the development process. Don’t know what it is like living without electricity? Talk to people who do.
  • Make it uber-cheap. Brands like Louis Vuitton and Apple add to a product’s price tag. Microproduct designers do the opposite. If it’s not affordable for somebody living on a few dollars a day, it’s not going to fly.
  • Shrink it down, make it small, and divide it by 600. Small units keep a product cheap, manageable, and easy to transport and distribute. Choose materials accordingly.
  • High tech is OK. Since the 1970s, a movement championing “appropriate technology” for developing countries has shunned high tech. However, it’s come so far that it’s no longer expensive. Modern information technology is a pillar of the micro revolution.
  • Combine ideas. Learn to think in an interdisciplinary way. Harness sustainable energy to new payment systems, education to unconventional design methods. Microproducts bring together innovations in different areas.
  • Think big. Scale up as fast as you can. How can you help millions of people access this product or service quickly? How will you distribute it?
  • Perfect it. Make prototypes and test them before rushing your product to market. It might be small and cheap, but that does not mean it doesn’t need refining. Your product is too important not to perfect—it could change someone’s life for the better.
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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership

Synopsis of the “Romeo and Juliet” Ballet in Three Acts

Synopsis of the 'Romeo and Juliet' Ballet in Three Acts

Romeo and Juliet was first performed by The Royal Ballet at the Royal Opera House on February 9, 1965. It entered the repertoire of American Ballet Theatre on January 3, 1985, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C. with Leslie Browne and Robert La Fosse in the leading roles of Juliet and Romeo.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT I

  • Scene #1: The Market Place. The scene is Verona. Romeo, son of Montague, tries vainly to declare his love for Rosaline and is comforted by his friends Mercutio and Benvolio. As day breaks the townsfolk meet in the market place, and a squabble develops between Tybalt, a nephew of Capulet, and Romeo and his friends. The Capulets and Montagues are sworn enemies, and a fight soon starts. The Lords Montague and Capulet join in the fray, which is stopped by the appearance of the Prince of Verona, who orders the families to end their feud.
  • 'The Ballet Book' by American Ballet Theater (ISBN 0789308657) Scene #2: Juliet’s Anteroom in the Capulet House. Juliet, playing with her nurse, is interrupted by her parents, Lord and Lady Capulet. They present her to Paris, an affluent young aristocrat who has asked for her hand in marriage.
  • Scene #3: Outside the Capulet House. Guests arrive for a ball at the Capulets’ household. Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio, disguised in masks, decide to go in pursuit of Rosaline.
  • Scene #4: The Ballroom. Romeo and his friends arrive at the height of the revelries. The guests watch Juliet dance. Mercutio, seeing Romeo is entranced by her, dances to sidetrack attention from him. Tybalt recognizes Romeo and orders him to leave, but Lord Capulet interferes and receives him as a guest in his house.
  • Scene #5: Outside the Capulet House. As the guests leave the ball, Lady Capulet contains Tybalt from pursuing Romeo.
  • Scene #6: Juliet’s Balcony. Unable to sleep, Juliet comes out on to her balcony and is thinking of Romeo when he suddenly appears in the garden. They acknowledge their love for each other.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT II

  • Scene #1: The Market Place. Romeo can think just of Juliet. Moreover, as a wedding pageant passes, he dreams of the day when he will marry her. Meanwhile, Juliet’s nurse pushes her way through the crowds looking for Romeo to give him a letter from Juliet. He reads that Juliet has agreed to be his wife.
  • Scene #2: The Chapel. The lovers are clandestinely married by Friar Laurence, who hopes that their union will end the discord between the Montagues and the Capulets.
  • Scene #3: The Market Place. Interjecting the revelry, Tybalt fights with Mercutio and kills him. Romeo avenges the death of his friend and is banished.

Romeo and Juliet Ballet: ACT III

  • Scene #1: The Bedroom. At dawn the next morning, the household is agitating and Romeo must go. He hugs Juliet and leaves as her parents enter with Paris. Juliet declines to marry Paris, and hurt by her snub, he leaves. Juliet’s parents are annoyed and threaten to disclaim her. Juliet rushes to see Friar Laurence.
  • 'Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina' by Misty Copeland (ISBN 1476737991) Scene #2: The Chapel. Juliet falls at the Friar’s feet and begs for his help. He gives her an ampoule of sleeping potion that will make her fall into a death-like sleep. Her parents, believing her dead, will bury her in the family tomb. Meanwhile, Romeo, warned by Friar Laurence, will revisit under cover of darkness and take her away from Verona.
  • Scene #3: The Bedroom. That evening, Juliet agrees to marry Paris, but next morning, when her parents arrive with him they find her seemingly lifeless on the bed.
  • Scene #4: The Capulet Family Crypt. Romeo, failing to receive the Friar’s communication, returns to Verona dumbfounded by grief at the news of Juliet’s death. Masquerading as a monk, he enters the crypt. Finding Paris by Juliet’s body, Romeo kills him and, thinking Juliet to be dead, drinks a vial of poison. Juliet awakes and, finding Romeo dead, stabs herself.
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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products

The Difference between Airline Hard and Soft Products » Singapore Airlines

Essentially, an airline’s hard product is the plane itself, and the airline’s soft product is the service, food, and the drinks.

Hard product can also be non-airplane constituents, such as lounge amenities. Consequently, the food and drinks in the lounge is soft product, while airline lounge showers are hard products.

The real differentiation is that hard product is hard to alter (requires construction), while soft product can be changed in 5 min with a phone call. Accordingly, limo service is a soft product for the airline (and a hard product for the limo company, at least as far as the car goes). For airplanes, the actual cost of the hard product is the airplane’s downtime during fit out (often greater than the cost of the hardware being added).

Travel consultant and blogger Ben Schlappig (“Lucky”) provides a rule of thumb:

A first/business class hard product is anything physically attached to the plane, which doesn’t differ from flight to flight. For example, the seat, onboard amenities (shower, bar, etc.), size of the entertainment screen, etc.

A first/business class soft product is anything which can differ from flight to flight. For example, food, drinks, service, amenity kits, etc.

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Posted in Airlines and Airliners

Quotations from Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz’s Book “Pour Your Heart Into It”

Howard Schultz‘s Pour Your Heart Into It touches on the best management and business practices and the techniques that Schultz used to found and lead Starbucks to the international coffee corporation it is today.

Starbucks has become an emblem of the current specialty coffee movement and a “hip” lifestyle. Starbucks coffee bars have opened in small towns and major cities alike, first in America, then around the world.

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz

“Pour Your Heart Into It” Chapter Titles and Lead Quotations

Starbucks is a international coffee house chain with more than 17,000 stores. Founded in 1971 to roast coffee and sell it straight to drinkers at branded shops, it was only a regional company until Howard Schultz purchased it in 1987.

  • Chapter 1: Imagination, Dreams, and Humble Origins
    “It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
    Antoine de Saint-Exupery in The Little Prince
  • Chapter 2: A Strong Legacy Makes You Sustainable for the Future
    “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life depend on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received.”
    Albert Einstein
  • Chapter 3: To Italians, Espresso is Like an Aria
    “Some men see things as they are and say ‘Why?’ I dream things that never were, and say ‘Why not?'”
    George Bernard Shaw, often quoted by Robert F. Kennedy
  • Chapter 4: Luck is the Residue of Design
    “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
    Peter Drucker
  • 'Pour Your Heart Into It' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 0786883561) Chapter 5: Naysayers Never Built a Great Enterprise
    “We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.”
    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Kavanagh
  • Chapter 6: The Imprinting of the Company’s Values
    “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”
    Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Chapter 7: Act Your Dreams with Open Eyes
    “Those who dream by night in the
    dusty recesses of their minds
    Awake to find that all was vanity;But the dreamers of day are dangerous men,
    That they may act their dreams with open
    eyes to make it possible.”
    T. E. Lawrence (of Arabia)
  • Chapter 8: If it Captures Your Imagination, it Will Captivate Others
    “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, … begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”
    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • Chapter 9: People are nor a Line Item
    “Wealth is the means and people are the ends. All our material riches will avail us little if we do not use them to expand the opportunities of our people.”
    John F. Kennedy, State of the Union address in January 1962
  • Chapter 10: A Hundred-story Building First Needs a Strong Foundation
    “The builders of visionary companies … concentrate primarily on building an organization—building a ticking clock—rather than on hitting a market just right with a visionary product idea.”
    Jim C. Collins, Built to Last
  • Chapter 11: Don’t Be Threatened by People Smarter Than You
    “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men [and women] to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
    Theodore Roosevelt
  • Chapter 12: The Value of Dogmatism and Flexibility
    “The only sacred cow in an organization should be its basic philosophy of doing business.”
    Thomas J. Watson, Jr. “A Business and Its Beliefs,” quoted in Built to Last

How Starbucks Became Successful

  • Chapter 13: Wall Street Measures a Company’s Price, Not Its Value
    “There are only two guidelines. One, what’s in the long-term best interests of the enterprise and its stakeholders, supplemented by the dominant concern of doing what’s right.”
    Robert D. Haas, President, Levi Strauss & Co.
  • Chapter 14: As Long as You’re Reinventing, How About Reinventing Yourself?
    “The difference between great and average or lousy in any job is, mostly, having the imagination and zeal to re-create yourself daily.”
    Tom Peters, The Pursuit of Wow!
  • Chapter 15: Don’t Let the Entrepreneur Get in the Way of the Enterprising Spirit
    “No organizational regeneration, no national industrial renaissance can take place without individual acts of courage.”
    Harvey A. Hornstein, Managerial Courage
  • Chapter 16: Seek to Renew Yourself Even When You’re Hitting Home Runs
    “To stay ahead, always have your next idea waiting in the wings.”
    Rosabeth Moss Kanter
  • Chapter 17: Crisis of Prices, Crisis of Values
    “It is by presence of mind in untried emergencies that the native metal of a man is tested.”
    James Russell Lowell, “Abraham Lincoln,” in North American Review, ]anuary 1864
  • Chapter 18: The Best Way to Build a Brand is One Person at a Time
    “What comes from the heart, goes to the heart.”
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Table Talk
  • Chapter 19: Twenty Million New Customers are Worth Taking a Risk For
    “Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.”
    Helen Keller, The Open Door
  • Chapter 20: You Can Grow B1g and Stay Small
    “The fundamental task is to achieve smallness within large organization.”
    E. F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered
  • Chapter 21: How Socially Responsible Can a Company Be?
    “The evidence seems clear that those businesses which actively serve their many constituencies in creative, morally thoughtful ways also, over the long run, serve their shareholders best. Companies do, in fact, do well by doing good.”
    Norman Lear, Founder of the Business Enterprise Trust, Quoted in David Bollier’s Aiming Higher
  • Chapter 22: How Not to Be a Cookie-cutter Chain
    “Art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take risks.”
    Mark Rothko, In The New York Times, June 13, 1943
  • Chapter 23: When They Tell You to Focus, Don’t Get Myopic
    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too; …
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!”
    Rudyard Kipling, “If”
  • Chapter 24: Lead with Your Heart
    “Leadership is discovering the company’s destiny and having the courage to follow it. … Companies that endure have a noble purpose.”
    Joe Jaworski of the Organizational Learning Center at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Starbucks Founder Howard Schultz's 'Pour Your Heart Into It'

Selections from Howard Schultz’s Analysis of Starbucks’ Spectacular Success

Schultz sponsored Starbucks as the “third place,” distinctive from home and work. Many of its shops have comfortable padded chairs and sofas. In recent years they offer free Wi-Fi for customers who want Internet access for their computers. Some Starbucks are in shopping malls, bookstores, supermarkets, college campuses, and airports. Baristas mix a range of coffee drinks.

  • “When you really believe—in yourself, in your dream—you just have to do everything you possibly can to take control and make your vision a reality. No great achievement happens by luck.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “I believe that the best way for an entrepreneur to maintain control is by performing well and pleasing shareholders even if his or her stake is below 50 percent. That risk is far preferable to the danger of heavy debt, which can limit the possibilities for future growth and innovation.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “It’s one thing to dream, but when the moment is right, you’ve got to be willing to leave what’s familiar and go out to find your own sound.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever your culture, your values, your guiding principles, you have to take steps to inculcate them in the organization early in its life so that they can guide every decision, every hire, every strategic objective you set.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Every step of the way, I made a point to underpromise and overdeliver. In the long run, that’s the only way to ensure security in any job.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “If you want to build a great enterprise, you have to have the courage to dream great dreams. If you dream small dreams, you may succeed in building something small. For many people, that is enough. But if you want to achieve widespread impact and lasting value, be bold.”
    Howard Schultz
  • 'Onward How Starbucks Fought for Its Life' by Howard Schultz (ISBN 1609613821) “Treat people like family, and they will be loyal and give their all. Stand by people, and they will stand by you. It’s the oldest formula in business, one that is second nature to many family-run firms. Yet in the late 1980s, it seemed to be forgotten.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “While Wall Street has taught me a lot, its most enduring lesson is an understanding of just how artificial a stock price is. It’s all too easy to regard it as the true value of your company, and even the value of yourself.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “At a certain stage in a company’s development, an entrepreneur has to develop into a professional manager. That often goes against the grain.”
    Howard Schultz
  • “Whatever you do, don’t play it safe. Don’t do things the way they’ve always been done. Don’t try to fit the system. If you do what’s expected of you, you’ll never accomplish more than others expect.”
    Howard Schultz

The Recipe to Starbucks Success

The name Starbucks is borrowed from the first mate of the whaling ship in the Herman Melville novel Moby Dick. The logo for Starbucks is also nautical, a siren who in the original image had a mermaid’s tail.

The first Starbucks location opened in the United States, in Pike Place, Seattle in 1971 and the company developed globally with a brand recognition that has been compared to the longer standing, brand-distinctive McDonald’s Fast-food Empire.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Leaders and Innovators

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

Deep inside the world’s longest (204 km) and deepest (approx. 1,300 meters or 4,300 feet) Sognefjorden—“King of the fjords”—valley, you’ll find tranquil Flam. This beautiful country town nuzzles amongst mountains as high as the fjord is deep. Flam began to draw visiting cruise ships as long ago as the 19th century when visitors firstly began to travel up the idyllic and dramatic Flam valley.

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

Flam is home to the Aegir microbrewery is named after the giant who brewed beer for the gods. Their bar is themed like an old Viking hall, with wooden carvings and chairs made from stumps.

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway Aegir Bryggeri and Pub from 2007 is a microbrewery, built in Norse Viking style where they produce a wide selection of fine beers for sale locally and further distribution.

Visit the brewery with slate floor, driftwood walls, dragon heads, and 9 meters high fire from floor to ceiling. In a short time, they have received awards and prizes for their good beers.

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

Aegir Bryggeri was awarded “Brewpub of the Year” three years in a row! Try their beers and light meals in the brewery.

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

The Aegir Bryggeri BrewPub building at Flamsbrygga is now one of Flam’s biggest attractions. The building style is inspired by Norse mythology, with the exterior reminiscent of a stave church. Inside are driftwood walls, dragon heads and a feature fireplace that radiates warmth and coziness, with a chimney extending 9 m through the middle of both stories.

Aegir Bryggeri Pub & Microbrewery in Flam, Norway

The port of Flam, with its newly constructed dockside amenities, welcomes all types of cruise ships, regardless of length, height or depth. The harbor is well-known for its remarkable infrastructure and good communication routes via both road and rail to Bergen and Oslo.

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Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture Travels and Journeys

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards

When is a dirty bathroom a broken window? This question could govern your success or failure. Answer that question properly—and use that answer as a guiding light—and your business could dominate its competition forever. Ignore the answer, and you will soon reprove your business to failure.

The “broken windows” philosophy was first set forth by criminologists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, deliberating on petty criminal acts like graffiti, purse snatching, or jay walking, and how they can lead to larger crimes such as murder. Something as small as a broken window sends a signal to those who pass by every day. That means more serious breaches—theft, defacement, violent crime—might be overlooked in this area.

If a window in a building is broken and left unrepaired, all other windows will soon be broken since people perceive that the owner of this building and the community around it don’t care if this window is broken: They have given up; disorder reigns here. Do as you will, because nobody cares.

Broken Windows in Business

Pay attention to every detail in leadership That same theory applies to the world of business. If the restroom is out of toilet paper, it gestures that management isn’t paying attention to the needs of its people. Perceptions are a vital part of every business, and if a retailer, service provider, or company sends signals that its approach is lackadaisical, its methods halfhearted, and its execution indifferent, the business could suffer severe—and in some cases, irreparable-losses.

When broken windows are ignored, fatal consequences can result. Small things make a huge difference. A messy reception area might lead customers to believe that the company doesn’t care about cleanliness or quality. We all bear some responsibility to stand up for what we want and have every right to expect from a company to which we give our hard-earned money. In a capitalist society, we assume that a company will do its best to fulfill the desires of its customers. If the company sees sales slipping but doesn’t have data from consumers as to what made them decrease their spending, the company will not know what to fix.

Still, businesses that don’t notice and repair their broken windows should not simply be forgiven because their consumers don’t make a fuss. Leaders are responsible to tend their own house—and the time to repair broken windows is the minute they occur.

Prevent Broken Windows

Since small things can snowball into large problems, smart owners prevent broken windows at—or before—the first sign of trouble.

In a business, the broken windows can be literal or metaphorical. Sometimes a broken window really is a broken window, and a new pane of glass needs to be installed quickly. However, most of the time, broken windows are the little details, the tiny flaws, the overlooked minutiae that signal much larger problems either already in place or about to become reality.

Companies that fail to notice and repair their broken windows suffer greatly. Those that attend to every potentially broken window win.

People want to feel that the businesses that they work for and those they buy from care about what they want. Consumers are looking for businesses that anticipate and fulfill their needs and do so in a way that makes it clear the business understands the consumers’ needs or wants and is doing its best to see them satisfied.

Broken windows indicate to the consumer that the business doesn’t care—either that it is so poorly run it can’t possibly keep up with its obligations, or that it has become so oversized and arrogant that it no longer cares about its core consumer. Either of these impressions can be deadly.

Tiny details—the smaller, the more important—can make a big difference in success or failure. A broken window can be a sloppy counter, poorly located sale item, randomly organized menu, or an employee with a bad attitude. It can be physical, like a flaking paint job, or symbolic, like a policy that requires consumers to pay for customer service.

The Broken Windows Pledge

Small Remedies Reap Big Rewards Broken windows are everywhere, except at the best businesses. I invite you to take the Broken Windows for Business Pledge. It’s a serious statement outlining the tenets of the broken windows for business theory.

  • You can pay attention to every detail.
  • You can correct any broken windows I find in my business, and you can do so immediately, with no hesitation.
  • You can screen, hire, train, and supervise my people to notice and correct broken windows as soon as possible.
  • You can treat each customer like the only customer my business has. You can be on constant vigil for signs of Broken Windows Hubris and never assume my business is invulnerable.
  • You can mystery shop my own business to discover broken windows.
  • You can make sure every customer who encounters my business is met with courtesy, efficiency, and a smile.
  • You can exceed customer expectations.
  • You can make a positive first impression and assume that every impression is a first impression.
  • You can make sure that my online and telephone customer service reps solve a customer’s problem perfectly the first time.
  • You can be obsessive and compulsive when it comes to my business.

If you live up to the promises in the pledge and make them second nature, you will discover your business—and your life—running more smoothly than ever before. You will never look at a broken window-or an unbroken one—the same way again.

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Posted in Management and Leadership Philosophy and Wisdom

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company’s Strategic Innovation Framework

How do you uphold growth and profitability in an age in which rivals quickly erode most any competitive advantage? One option is to initiate entirely new businesses.

Consider how some companies have redefined their customer, the value offered, and the delivery method—a process we call strategic innovation:

  • In 1996, General Motors formed a new business unit, OnStar, to commercialize an integrated information, safety, and communications system.
  • In 2001, Procter & Gamble launched Tremor, a new marketing service for other companies.
  • In 2003, the Walt Disney Company introduced Moviebeam, a wireless, no-hassle, in home video rental store.

How to Foresee Vision-Related Conflicts in Your Company's Strategic Innovation Framework If you follow several such innovation stories—each a tale of a new businesses (New_Company) within established and successful organization (Core_Parent_Company). You will be less interested in where the path-breaking ideas came from than how companies managed the process of going from idea to profitability. Nurturing creativity within an organization usually merits a great deal of attention, but the need for creativity is high only at the beginning of New_Company’s life. Once a business plan is in place, the need for creativity begins to decay rapidly.

An entirely new approach is needed—one that emphasizes neither the creativity that inspires New_Company’s launch nor the discipline that Core_Parent_Company demands to deliver bottom-line results.

New_Company Faces Three Distinct Challenges in Its Journey from Idea to Profitability

  • Forgetting: New_Company’s business model is invariably different from Core_Parent_Company’s model. The answers to the most fundamental business questions—Who is the customer? What value do we offer? How do we deliver it?—are intensely different. The essence of the forgetting challenge is ensuring that Core_Parent_Company’s success formula is not imported to New_Company.
  • Borrowing: New_Company’s biggest advantage over its competition is the wealth of resources and assets within Core_Parent_Company. The essence of the borrowing challenge is gaining access to these resources, and doing so in a way that does not damage Core_Parent_Company’s own commitment to excellence.
  • Learning: New_Company’s business is highly uncertain. It must methodically resolve the specific unknowns within its approach as quickly as possible, and zero in on the best possible approach. Learning requires an entirely different approach to planning.

All three challenges obviously create tensions. To forget, New_Company must be distinct from Core_Parent_Company. At the same time, to borrow, New_Company must be linked to Core_Parent_Company.

At points of interaction, stress inherently arises unswervingly because of the differences in business models, values, styles, and priorities. Learning also leads to stress, because it requires an analytical discipline—much different from the operational discipline of execution and performance.

These are the types of tensions that can be healthy for New_Company, and when a corporation achieves them well, the journey from idea to profitability is a smooth one.

But is it worth the risk? Contemplate the risk of the alternative—sticking to the knitting—a choice that inevitably leads to decay. Without growth, CEOs lose jobs, employees stagnate, organizations become stale, and competitiveness languishes. Strategic innovation, on the other hand, can deliver breakthrough growth and generate new life-cycle curves. It enables companies to stay ahead of change by creating, growing, and profiting from new business models.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

The Gift of Customer Loyalty Begins with Employee Loyalty

Customer Loyalty Flourishes

Employee and customer loyalty are one in the same. The gift of customer loyalty begins with employee loyalty. Nurtured and directed employee loyalty will create worlds of energy, inoculating against the apathy and distrust endemic in many organizations. It can also result in synergy, the energy-laden connection that emerges in a group channeling momentum toward the common good. Trust, added to the mix, instills confidence, which helps employee loyalty grow, and customer loyalty flourish.

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Sam Walton and Wal-Mart

At the time of Sam Walton’s death in 1992, Wal-Mart had annual sales of $44 billion. One out of every five retail items purchased in America came from a Wal-Mart store. His personal fortune exceeded $23 billion. Sam once said: “There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody, from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” When asked how Wal-Mart was able to grow so fast, Sam replied, “The answer is always the same-people. Not only the right kind, but interested, dedicated, enthusiastic, and loyal people. That makes our company exceptional.”

Southwest Airlines Customer Service

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Herb Kelleher and Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines devotes a considerable budget to celebrating its employees with parties, banquets, gifts, birthday cards and outings. Accountants have told Herb Kelleher how much money he could save if he didn’t budget for these activities. His reply: “Southwest Airlines has the fewest customer complaints in the industry. How much is that worth?”

Kelleher believes that the front office is there to support the employees. He said: “Southwest has its customers, the passengers; and I have my customers, the airline’s employees. If the passengers aren’t satisfied, they won’t fly with us. If the employees aren’t satisfied, they won’t provide the product we need.” Southwest employees make flying a fun experience. They try to surprise and delight the customers.

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Nordstrom Rules

Nordstrom leaders also inspire employees with actions and directions that are surprising. For example, the Nordstrom Handbook says: “Our number one goal is to provide outstanding customer service. Set both your personal and professional goals high. We have great confidence in your ability to achieve them.” And Rule 1 simply reads: “Use your good judgment in all situations. There will be no additional rules. Please feel free to ask your department manager, store manager, or division manager any question at any time.”

The founders of Nordstrom maintain what they call a “worshipful relationship” with the customer, resulting in delighted customers, enthusiastic salespeople, and high profits. They actively practice “doing virtually anything possible to please the customer.” The founders also do virtually anything possible to please their employees.

The Gift of Customer Loyalty Begins with Employee Loyalty

Employee & Customer Loyalty Case Study: Ritz Carlton: Discovering what customers savor

A few months ago, I was involved in a seminar in Pasadena at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel. During lunch I asked my waiter for a burger and a chocolate shake. When he let me know that they didn’t offer milkshakes, I setfled for a glass of water. I was surprised when a chocolate shake arrived with my hamburger. Manuel Avila, my waiter, on his own initiative, found chocolate ice cream and cold milk in the kitchen and created a shake. Manuel felt free to exercise initiative on my behalf because of the positive creative examples set by his leaders.

When Employees are Cared for, They Care for Customers

The way employees treat customers reflects directly on the way they are personally treated. Many employees are truly loyal. The question is; how do we retain and increase our loyal employees, thereby increasing our customer loyalty base?

The way employees treat customers reflects directly on the way they are personally treated. How can you emulate these four cases to improve loyalty in your organization?

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Posted in Business and Strategy Uncategorized