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Fast Pass Plus

Open-uri20150422-12561-1l7bijo_995042b1Last month, my family took a spring break trip to Orlando. We wanted to capture the Disney magic one more time before our kids were out of the house and off living lives of their own. With a high school sophomore in the house, that day is coming faster than we thought. I've always had a Love-Hate relationship with Disney. One of my favorite jokes is that EPCOT really stands for "Every Pocket Cleaned Out Thoroughly." To be fair, Disney is a money-making machine. Their mission statement (2013) says "The Walt Disney Company's objective is to be one of the world's leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products." No where in there does it promise people will have a good time, or that its customers will enjoy what they consume. They just say they'll produce it.

Our experience this time at Disney was different primarily because of one thing. We've stayed on Disney property before, so that wasn't it. We enjoyed the transportation included in our package, so that wasn't it either. We purchased a park-hopper so we could move around if we wished, and that still worked equally well. So what was different? The Fast Pass. For those not indoctrinated to the Disney experience, the Fast Pass was this amazing trick to avoid long lines. It used to work that you got a Fast Pass to a popular ride when you got into the park. After a certain period of time (generally once you had used your previous Fast Pass), you could get another and another, and another throughout the entire day. A savvy customer could actually plan out their day pretty well and get to ride a lot with this technique. Great idea, right? So let's make it even better with the (drum roll, please) FAST PASS PLUS.

The Fast Pass Plus allows guests to schedule their Fast Passes several weeks in advance. However, once the rides are filled up, they're filled up, and no more Fast Passes are issued. Also, Disney advertises that you can get more Fast Passes when you get to the park. The part they don't tell you is that you can't reserve any more until you've used all the pre-scheduled Fast Passes. It seems everything about Disney - rides, food, activities - has become increasingly over-scheduled. And to be honest, a bit chaotic and stressful (especially if you're a project manager looking to get a vacation from scheduling tasks weeks in advance). At least with the old way, everybody walking into the part started on equal footing at the start of the day.

Believe it or not, this post isn't a dog-pile on Disney. My family still had an enjoyable enough time. We ended up waiting in line a bit more than we would have liked, but we bonded and more or less got to do the things we wanted.  The Disney app is a great tool to tell you wait times on lines, and we leveraged it quite a bit. The purpose of this post is to talk about efficiency vs. effectiveness. As Peter Drucker described it, "Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things." One could argue Disney is both efficient and effective. When you look at doing things right (i.e., using the fewest resources to produce a result), Disney is a master of efficiency. They pack people into their parks and keep them moving and going and riding and eating and watching and buying from park's open to close. And to Disney's credit, they are much more efficient than Universal (we also spent a day doing the Harry Potter thing). The effectiveness part is where I question Disney. Certainly they are meeting their mission, but how happy are the consumers with their experience? Really happy? How many moms and dads and grandparents left their Disney vacation thinking, "Wow, I can't wait to come back!" vs "Wow, I can't wait to get out of here!"? (Based on the number of child meltdowns observed, I'm guessing more of the latter. When my teenager pulled me aside to thank me for great parenting that prevented her from acting like THAT, I knew it was getting it her as well.) Ironically, some of the longest and crankiest lines were those at the very few Fast Pass kiosks around the park, as customers frustratedly tried to make changes.

Will Disney change? Doubtful. Tale as old as time, there will always be parents willing to fork out major dinero to create some magical experiences for their children. But what about your business? In the pursuit of efficiency, what effectiveness are you sacrificing? Have you become the Fast Pass Plus of getting customers through as quickly as possible, only to have those customers have no desire to return? Are you meeting all your project milestones, but churning your project team in the process and making them never want to work with you?

Ten Years and a Day

Tenth_birthdayBlogging isn't something I do a lot these days.

Ten years ago yesterday, I wrote my first post. I can't believe an entire decade has passed.

Ten years ago, I had a kindergartner and a toddler (today they are a high school sophomore and a fifth grader).

Ten years ago, I was not in a good place career-wise, and now I am highly content with where I am and my projects.

Ten years ago, I was an SUV driver exclusively; now I'm on my second sedan.

Ten years ago, we were living in a different house and going to a different church.

Ten years ago, the world hadn't even heard of a fictional place called Downton Abbey.

But some things haven't changed.

I still love to write.

I still own a Shih Tzu (version 2.0).

I still adjunct at my alma mater.

I'm still curious about my surroundings.

Will I keep blogging? Sure, when the Spirit moves me. My friend, Patti Digh, recently put me through my own little writing boot camp. Her feedback proved invaluable to my decision to put fingers to keyboard once again. There's a lot out there affecting accomplishment... and projects... and creativity... and office politics... and life.

Will people disagree with me? Heavens, yes! Civility has gone out the window as a certain candidate has proven again and again. Am I going to try to be civil anyway? Yes.

So a belated happy birthday to carpefactum.com

Let's see what another decade can do.

 

Corporate Culture: Live it or Leave it

I-Love-(Heart)-My-Awesome-Company-T-ShirtsCompany culture.

It's one of those fascinating terms that conjures different meanings for different people. We all filter it through the cultures in which we've worked. For some people, it's a wonderful term equated with teamwork and comradery and accomplishment. For others, it may mean drudgery and distrust. 

I've always been fascinated by culture, especially being a consultant. I've been exposed to numerous cultures inside and outside my home town. I've watched cultures shift over the years... some for the better, others for the worse. My current client has an amazing culture, and much of the credit is due to the fact they make their employees aware of the culture and their individual impact on it.

I think awareness is a key aspect of any organizational culture. I recently sent copies of my books to a friend. He's been reading my book, GUST, about office politics. Before he started, he offhandedly remarked that his organization was free of politics. Now that's he's halfway through the book, he's aware of the some of the signs of office politics he never noticed before. Sometimes, you need to be able to look at your own culture through an outsider's eyes.

I've also written before about toxic cultures, where people are blindsided by sneak attacks. If you're not paying attention, you miss a lot. The signs of your culture are there for you to read and interpret.

What is your corporate culture telling you? If you were to look at your coworkers, your furniture layout, your dress code, your meetings, your policies and procedures, and your general vibe through fresh eyes, what would you see?

Just some thoughts to start out your work week.

 

It's a Shame

ShameI was catching up on news the other day online and ran across the story of Adam Smith, the former CFO who was fired after his vitriolic Chick-Fil-A video went viral. He went from making $200K a year with a million more in stock options to being on food stamps. He had managed to get a job elsewhere, but when his new employer found out about the video, they also fired him.

About the same time as seeing the news story, as I was cleaning my shed (have to love post-move spring cleaning)I ran across Jonah Lehrer's book, How We Decide. It reminded me of the plagiarism and fabrication scandal involving this book and his newer one, Imagine.

It's interesting how things of such short proximity collide in my brain. A couple of months back, I read a thought-provoking piece by Jon Ronson in the New York Times entitled, "How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco's Life." In this piece, he dissects numerous incidents of public shaming. In this day and age of social media, it's pretty easy to pick a metaphorical skeleton clean in a matter of seconds and retweets. A couple of paragraphs struck me, though:

Still, in those early days, the collective fury felt righteous, powerful and effective. It felt as if hierarchies were being dismantled, as if justice were being democratized. As time passed, though, I watched these shame campaigns multiply, to the point that they targeted not just powerful institutions and public figures but really anyone perceived to have done something offensive. I also began to marvel at the disconnect between the severity of the crime and the gleeful savagery of the punishment. It almost felt as if shamings were now happening for their own sake, as if they were following a script.

Eventually I started to wonder about the recipients of our shamings, the real humans who were the virtual targets of these campaigns. So for the past two years, I’ve been interviewing individuals like Justine Sacco: everyday people pilloried brutally, most often for posting some poorly considered joke on social media. Whenever possible, I have met them in person, to truly grasp the emotional toll at the other end of our screens. The people I met were mostly unemployed, fired for their transgressions, and they seemed broken somehow — deeply confused and traumatized. (NYT 2/15/15, Ronson)

I know I've felt the self-righteous twinge of vengeance when I've perceived a wrong, whether against me or somebody else. In the early days of social media, Ronson nailed it: there was a leveling of social justice. But now it all seems so swift, so severe. And in this day of social media and mobile phones with video cameras, anybody and everybody seems to be fair game.

My bottom line is this: yes, there are people on this planet who do stupid, careless, thoughtless, and rude things. Their reasons are as vast as the stupidity of their actions. (Guess what? We all fall into that category; most of us are just fortunate enough that our actions weren't captured on camera or on social media.) Perhaps it's this Easter season and the thought of forgiveness is forefront on my brain, but maybe - just maybe - afford people a little leniency (or at least a meaningful dialogue) before passing judgment.

From "Go To" to "Gone"

Dahls ClosingOur Dahl's grocery store has shuttered its doors for the last time. We are pretty fortunate, since we live within a two-mile radius of about four grocery stores. While we were fairly stable Hy-Vee shoppers, Dahl's was always our "go to" store, since it was the closest. I felt the pain for the first time yesterday when I was tasked with fixing supper for the family. I needed a few last second ingredients. Usually, when the terms "need" and "last second" enter a sentence, the grocery flowchart arrows point to Dahl's; however, due to Dahl's bankruptcy, I ended up going to Hy-Vee.

I'm a little nostalgic about it... after all, we've shopped there for 19 years. I remember scurrying there when we first moved into the neighborhood to pick up a few things just so we could have breakfast the next morning in our new house. We've learned about the cashiers and their lives. We have memories there. But, as I already mentioned, we also have other stores.

The Dahl's closure made me think about the "go to" PEOPLE in our lives. Who are the ones who seem to have all the answers, all the resources, all the contacts? Are you treating them with the appropriate level of respect and appreciation, or are you just using them like we used the Dahl's grocery stores: they're around when I need them, but I have others with whom I'd rather spend my time?

As I mature in my career, I've learned how valuable those "go to" people really are in the day-to-day battles to seize the accomplishment. Invest in them and their goals, demonstrate your appreciation, and foster the relationship to something beyond "as needed" - these will go a long way to ensure your "go to" person doesn't go away from lack of use.

My grocery shopping habits will adjust over time. Maybe the grocery gods will smile, and our former Dahl's store will become a Trader Joe's (fingers crossed). Most likely, it will become some kind of ubiquitous strip mall, purporting Pilates, checking cashing, and tattoos. Sigh.

Audvisor: Sound Advice

AudvisorWords fail me.

That seems ironic given I'm announcing an app where people are talking.

I guess that I still get "star struck" when it comes to my heroes in the business world. When I think about the past 9 years of social media presence (another wow, since the anniversary of my first blog post hits at the end of the week), I'm in awe about the blessings of being able to meet so many amazing people in our shared journey of improving the modern workplace.

Last June, I received a Facebook message from Rajesh Setty (another of my social media friends I've just not yet met in real life), asking me if I'd like to talk to him about an opportunity. Many phone calls, emails, and a Skype chat later, the opportunity came to fruition. That opportunity was an app that launched today: Audvisor.

Audvisor pulls together many of the people I've admired and read over the past decade. The roster reads like a who's who of a modern business library: 

  • Anil Gupta
  • Ari Meisel
  • Dr. Avnesh Ratnanesan
  • Barbara Safani
  • Berni Xiong
  • Bill Belew
  • Bill Henderson
  • Bill Treasurer
  • BJ Bushur
  • Blair Dunkley
  • Bryan Kramer
  • Chris Edmonds
  • Chris Taylor
  • Chris Warner
  • Colleen Stanley
  • David Meerman Scott
  • David Newman
  • Debra Fine
  • Denise Lee Yohn
  • Devon Bandison
  • Dilip Saraf
  • Dorie Clark
  • Ellen Petry Leanse
  • Guy Kawasaki
  • Hiten Shah
  • Ian Gotts
  • Janet Fouts
  • Jason Womack
  • Jay Heinrichs
  • Dr. Jeremy Weisz
  • Jodi Womack
  • Joel Comm
  • Justin Popovic
  • Karin Hurt
  • Kevin Eikenberry
  • Laura Stack
  • Lily Hills
  • Lindy Cozens
  • Dr. Liz Alexander
  • Mark Thompson
  • Michael Port
  • Michelle Tillis Lederman
  • Mike Michalowicz
  • Mitch Axelrod
  • Mitchell Levy
  • Pamela Slim
  • Paul D'Souza
  • Paul Kirch, PRC
  • Perry Marshall
  • Dr. Prasad Kaipa
  • Renee Airya
  • Richie Norton
  • Robin Gilthorpe
  • Rory Vaden
  • Sally Hogshead
  • Seth Godin
  • Shamash Alidina
  • Simon T. Bailey
  • Sramana Mitra
  • Dr. Stanislav Galik
  • Stephen Shapiro
  • Steve Yastrow
  • Sunil Bhaskaran
  • Tanveer Naseer
  • Dr. Tasha Eurich
  • Terry Starbucker St. Marie
  • Tom Chi
  • Tom Peters
  • Dr. Tony Alessandra
  • Vinod Khosla
  • Will Bunker

... and yours truly (talking about accomplishment, project management, office politics, and systems thinking). I still have more "insights" (their term, not mine) to add, so check back often.

Just another fun adventure on this wild roller coaster of life.

You can download the app to your smart phone here.

 

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