Some time ago, my wife and I took a trip to Cancun, Mexico. We took an excursion bus to tour the wonderful Mayan ruins of Chitzen Itza. The distance was several hours so lunch was included in the excursion package. Our guide was a seasoned veteran in the tour business. He had a masterful command of weaving in points of interest in with stories that most nationalities could understand. He was a good communicator as well keeping us constantly informed of what event was to happen next. He truly was making our excursion a memorable and joyful experience. The best exhibit of customer care, however, was his instructions regarding lunch.
Lunch consisted of a buffet with a wide selection of domestic foods and salads. Our guide gave us special instructions to ensure that we ate well and didn't get delayed with other tourists. His instructions were simple. According to our schedule, we would be the first or second bus to park. Within the hour, the cafeteria would be accommodating as many as eight buses. We would be seated by bus and it was common to be seated first and to take drink orders before approaching the buffet. He instructed us not to be seated and proceed directly to the buffet where we should take two plates filling it with anything and everything we wanted. The reason for this is that with the other buses unloading, a 10 minute line would form instantaneously and waiting in a line like that is more bearable on a return trip instead of an initial trip. We did exactly as instructed and sat down with plates full of hot food and servers were there instantly to fetch our drink orders. Meanwhile, other tourists found their seats, waited to order their drinks and then proceeded to stack up in line. We watched the scenario with other tourists and it unraveled exactly as our tour guide said it would. People were cheerful as they were on vacation, but a five to ten minute wait on an empty stomach can really wear on a tourist's fun factor. The buses were on a schedule, which possibly created less of a tourist experience if they were not able to enjoy their lunch due to time constraints. We felt a sincere gratitude for the wisdom of our guide and of course that manifested in a few extra dollars at tip time. Regardless of the motivation of our guide, he demonstrated the pure essence of customer care.
Customer service just gets you to the buffet letting common practice lead your next steps. Customer care goes beyond service creating an emotional gratitude bond between the receiver and the giver of the service. Customer care doesn't cost extra other than just a tad bit of effort to provide your customer with an optimal experience. The service is just a thing, but the "care" factor is the component of customer experience that really can differentiate.
Paul was in the search for a certain type of used car. He monitored the online listings and perused the paper until he found an option that fit his requirements. The car was a for-sale-by-owner situation and on the way to evaluate the car, Paul developed his negotiation strategy. The car was listed at twenty thousand, which excited Paul as his budget cap was twenty-three thousand. If the car was in good condition he would offer seventeen thousand five hundred allowing some room for negotiation. When he arrived, he learned the car was owned by an elderly couple. Paul's thoughts were aligned with the general assumption that older folks drive fewer miles and give more frequent care. The couple had all the service records and other documents that indicated the car was in as pristine shape as it appeared. Paul wanted the car, but in a snap decision he broke from his strategy and went with a lowball offer of seventeen thousand even. The couple conferred and accepted Paul's offer. Paul was immediately dissatisfied for two reasons: He felt could have negotiated the car for less and he worried something was wrong with the car. He was expecting some level of negotiation. Because Paul was unclear of what would achieve satisfaction, he become discontented when no price bicker occurred.
Commentary - Paul was willing to spend twenty-three thousand dollars for a car in good condition. He saved six thousand dollars and got a car in pristine condition. However, he was now unsatisfied with the purchase experience. How can someone be dissatisfied who saved thousands of dollars and increased quality in the acquisition? Paul had difficulty distinguishing satisfaction from apparent satisfaction. We define satisfaction in terms of our reactions to our events. It is possible for us to feel satisfied without experiencing real satisfaction if we are under the illusion of being happily fulfilled. There are three categories of satisfaction: public effect, personal and apparent. The first two types are true satisfaction and are self-defining. An example of public effect is writing a book and an example of personal is losing weight. Apparent satisfaction is where the confusion comes in. It is a dual situation where it is either unclear what experience will create true satisfaction or the object of satisfaction to too unique to the seeker, such as collecting hubcaps.
Paul had an internal struggle with apparent satisfaction as he could not focus on what would satisfy him. He was in search of good quality, which he found. However, then he was looking to save money, which he did. Paul lost sight of his real pursuit for happiness...finding and acquiring his unique car. All the other acquisition events got in the way because of Paul's slip into apparent satisfaction. Ever have a customer upset with the "means" to acquire when the "end result" was just fine? It could be due to your service mistakes, or it could be due to apparent satisfaction. Here are a few things to ensure your customer transitions out of any potential apparent satisfaction. Clarify the end result to achieve true satisfaction. Define the means or disclose steps to reach true satisfaction. Finally, make your customer comfortable with the beginning-to-end process. Understanding and defining satisfaction levels should be priority objective for those who serve the needs of others.
Nearly everyone knows the general story of David and Goliath. Although this story is used for religious teachings in the Jewish and Christian faiths, there are several take-aways that can be used for personal and business purposes. Actually, the David and Goliath story has reached people of all nations and even is detailed in the Qur'an as having meaning to Muslims.
The summary of the story is as follows: David was a teenage Sheppard-boy, the youngest of 8 sons. He was called to bring food to some of his military brothers who were in a stand-off with the Philistine army. The champion of the Philistine warriors was Goliath, who was a giant of a man...as tall as the tallest basketball player and as big as the biggest football player. For several days Goliath had challenged the Israelites to send their own champion for a single-combat dual to decide the outcome of the war. David hears of the challenge and asks his king if he can represent the Israelites in the dual. David rejects his king's amour, but does collect 5 smooth stones from a nearby creek. Goliath is weighted with amour nearly from head to toe. After an exchange of a few words David uses his sling shot to score a direct hit into the skull of Goliath causing him to fall lifelessly to the earth. At that point, David becomes famous and a future king of Israel.
The story commentary focuses on David's faith as being the driving force for his victory. However, if you read the whole story you will realize that David just didn't show up as an underdog with a positive attitude. His function as Sheppard-boy, along with serving his family, prepared him for the "giant" encounter. In ancient times, the youngest had to care for the oldest. David spent most of his life serving his family's needs. This "care work" prepared him for his job to Sheppard sheep. Texts preceding the individual battle story details David practicing with his leather slingshot on trees and targets in preparation of protecting his flock. Additional accounts describe David encountering attacks by a bear and a lion where David kills these beasts in defense of these sheep. The occupation of a Sheppard carries several hazards that requires extreme preparation and a creative response to any given circumstance. David's preparation moves into the text of the individual battle as he collect's 5 stones from a nearby creek. There are two thoughts to David collecting 5 stones. Supposedly there was a rumor in the camp that Goliath had brothers, who could possibly retaliate regardless of the terms of the single-combat dual. David may have picked up additional arsenal for that reason or he may have wanted additional stones in the event of a misfire. Either way, the text personifies preparation.
When you read on either side of the story, it is clear that David had unknowingly prepared himself for battle and victory against Goliath. Preparation is defined as to make ready or putting one's self into proper condition. How many times do we fail to properly prepare for something gigantic in our business or personal lives? We should learn from David's example that advanced preparation for the known or unknown will allow us to face our personal giants. Maybe Ben Franklin says it better, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." Advanced preparation allows us to achieve "giant" successes.
The interview process had whittled down between two candidates. Each candidate was brought in for a series of "one-on-ones" with several members from the management team. One candidate, Davis, connected well with some key people who would make the decision to hire. Davis asked all the right questions and sensed positive vibes with much of the non-verbal interaction. Davis was convinced that he would be chosen.
A week elapsed and there was no word from the company. Confused and eager, Davis contacted his Human Resources contact in search of an update. The next day he received a letter thanking him for his interest, but the company had made a decision with the other candidate. Davis was shocked and replayed in his head the events of the interview process. This frustrated him as he felt he was lead to believe that he was the obvious choice. In frustration he reached out to a key decision maker asking for some feedback. The decision maker agreed with Davis that he would have been a good fit; however, stated that the group's decision was trumped. Davis concluded this final decision could only come from the president of the company so, with courage, Davis asked the president's assistant for a call. Kathy, the president, agreed to a short follow up discussion with Davis.
After exchanging a few pleasantries, Davis acknowledged Kathy's busy schedule and simply recapped the disparity between his positive interview experiences and the decision. Kathy thanked him for his interest in the company and added, "Durwin is the name of our janitor."
Davis didn't understand what Kathy said and replied, "Were you speaking to me? I don't understand."
Kathy expounded, "Mr. Davis, our company requires every single employee to push or pull in the same direction for us to achieve any level of success. Although we have different responsibilities, our functions are critical to each other. You might say our sum total is greater than our individual parts. No one is less important including our janitor and, again, his name is Durwin. Mr. Davis, when we visited I asked you if you knew your janitor in your existing job...do you remember what you told me?"
The phone line was silent as Davis was trying to remember the details of his conversation with Kathy. Davis eventually replied, "I don't think I remember, but I know I but I am sure the janitors at my existing employment do fine."
Kathy responded, "Ok, Mr. Davis that may be fine but when we talked, you referred to your cleaning service as a commodity and joked you would replace them if the trash cans were not emptied."
Davis said, "I understand everyone in an organization is important, but surely my talents supersede any sentiment towards a janitor."
Kathy replied, "Mr. Davis, you are a talented person and I am speaking to you in hopes to make you more valuable to any organization you represent. In your career, you will meet many people. They are all significant and deserve your attention and care. Even if all you do is smile and say hello to your cleaning service...you will be a company conduit connecting them with the greater company purpose."
Davis responded, "I think I understand now, thank you for your time, and I will never forget this lesson." Tomorrow, I will start learning more about people and make my organization better.
Kathy said, "wonderful, the moment you do that you will also make yourself better. Good luck."
Colin was a bus driver in England. The company’s key measurement was the recording of actual time to scheduled time at selected stops. Colin was a below average performer and, over the course of a month, he received the necessary discipline to reflect and correct his performance. As a result, Colin's metric began to substantially improve. His name catapulted through the employee ranking until he ranked among the top of the list of drivers. Colin became a celebrated employee and one who was dubbed with advancement potential. Colin now walked with a swagger and others marveled at his changes in himself and his success. He was on the fast track to a leadership position when the climax swiftly came about.
The complaint department trended feedback on Colin's bus number and the results warranted his immediate dismissal. How did Colin go from first to worst? To improve the metric, Colin started passing by scheduled stops with the assumption that a bus behind him would pick up the delayed passengers. Once Colin received praise, he confused the metric with his intended purpose and increased the bypassing of scheduled stops. The good metric became short-lived, though, as the repetition of missed stops angered the passengers to the point of filing multiple complaints. The metric could not supersede the authenticity of the nature of the complaints; therefore, he was terminated. Colin’s defense was that other buses were on the same route so the passengers were only slightly delayed and he had his metrics to beat.
Commentary - Colin was hired to transport people from one location to another and perform that service on a specific time frame. Colin lost his sense of purpose with his job. He morphed his serving people function into a metric result that did not correlate to his service performance. Although this story makes the loss of purpose easy to understand, there are several situations in business where it's hard to keep the core purpose of our function in focus. How do you keep yourself in focus? Be truthful in evaluation of yourself and compare your performance with regards to known company goals. Additionally, ask yourself...what I am here for and what am I supposed to be doing? Regardless of the organization, it is safe to say that you are specifically here to meet the needs of others. If you operate with that sincere premise, then you'll maintain a customer focus, which will allow you to sidestep the pitfall that drove Colin down the road to termination.
"Dad, I don't think I can do it," gasp the daughter.
Dad, who was sitting on the couch reading, looked up and noticed a sincere look of worry on his daughter's face. Dad tried to calm her by saying, "Ah honey, it's normal to be nervous. You have been preparing and you'll do fine.
The daughter replied, "I petrified I am going to screw it up."
Dad smiled and tried to sooth his daughter's nerves by pointing to his head and saying, "Ah honey, anything important that you do in life will be played out in your mind before any actions reach your mouth, hands and feet. The most important thing to do is develop an enhancing attitude. Once you do that you will fear nothing in life and you will enhance whatever you endeavor."
The daughter replied, "I need any help I can get so please tell me the difference between a normal attitude and an enhanced attitude."
The dad put the paper to his side, motioned to follow him to the kitchen and with a grin said, "Let me show you." Once in the kitchen dad said, "I need you to get a pot full of water and set it to boil." While action was heating up on the stove, dad rummaged through the refrigerator looking for his props. Dad found what he was looking for and partially concealed his findings as he turned towards the stove.
"What are we eating?", his daughter asked with tinge of sarcasm in her voice.
Next to the stove on the counter, dad sat a carrot, an egg and a handful of coffee grinds. Before his daughter could speak, he continued, "I want you to inspect each element and then place it into the boiling water. She did as instructed and they both stood in silence for a few moments watching the elements react to the boiling water. Dad took a spoon and fished the carrot and egg out of the pot and sat them on the countertop.
Dad looked at his daughter and said, "There are three types of attitude we can possess as we face challenges in our lives: soft, hard and enhancing.
The daughter lost her patience and quipped, "Dad, you could have told me that without bringing me here to the kitchen. Is there a point in all this?"
Dad felt the props had reached their purpose so he pointed to the boiling water and said, "See that? That pot represents life and the boiling water represents situations we face in life. Then dad pointed to the carrot and asked her to pick it up. She picked it up and grimaced as it started to squish in her hands. Dad chuckled and commented, "That carrot represents a hard person who encountered the boiling of life and that person came out with a soft attitude." Dad then picked up the egg and let it drop on the counter creating only a few cracks. Dad added, "Look at that. The egg represented a fragile person who experienced life and came out with a hard attitude."
The daughter interrupted, "Ok, I bet the coffee represented a person with an enhancing attitude.
The dad replied, "Absolutely, the coffee grinds represented a nervous-to-pieces person, such as yourself, but came out of life making it actually better for everyone...just smell." Dad continued, "That is my wish for you to witness life with an enhancing attitude."
THE ROLLERCOASTER - Conceptual buy-in The front car reached the top of the climb and the coaster immediately dropped a heart-pounding 155 feet reaching a top speed of 72mph. It was two minutes and sixteen seconds of sheer adrenaline as the coaster had four loops ending in a cobra roll as the grand finale. Tom and Scott had brought their families to the amusement park on a sultry Saturday afternoon. After the rollercoaster thrill, they both decided they needed a break. They grabbed a refreshment and parked their bodies in a shaded area. The collective family members agreed to return in an hour and quickly scattered to other areas of the park.
After collecting their senses, Tom and Scott broke into a conversation about work. They both held leadership positions in complementary industries, so it was easy for them to have an appreciable understanding to each other's situations. Tom shared a problem he was having associated with one of his company's initiatives, which was implemented in the prior year.
Tom said, "We just cannot get this new workflow adopted with our national producers. We've showed them umpteen times that the initiative can increase productivity while reducing cost, yet some only partially utilize the workflow while others don't buy-in at all. The partial adoption is almost worse because it creates a duplication of effort and makes efficiencies look bad with mixed results. The others are just stubborn having more comfort in their traditional ways."
Scott chuckled and replied, "Well, we all know change is not easy...we've always adopted the adage that change is easier with someone than too someone. How did you roll this initiative out?"
Tom said, "Oh definitely I agree about incorporating change with the people. We thought we did a good job this time around, because we created an internal campaign and called it Hearts & Minds. The concept was that we needed people to both believe it in their heart and understand it in their mind that this initiative would help us differentiate ourselves in the marketplace, while simultaneously increasing efficiencies and reducing costs. We knew that we needed both hearts and minds won over for this concept to work, because if you only believe and don't know then you cannot succeed. Visa verse, if you only know but don't believe then you will choose not to succeed. So we made sure that we won over the hearts and minds of our middle managers and they, too, became supporting voices for this initiative."
Scott nodded, scratched his chin and looked off in the distance to help formulate his response. After a few peaceful moments Scott replied, "You know, we did something like this about 18 months ago. We broke our project down into three conceptual rollout stages: Identification, Conformity & Internalization. With Identification we reached out to strategic members of our organization to help them find commonality with what we were trying to achieve. With Conformity we used peer pressure to get resisters in-line with adopters."
Tom responded, "that sounds similar to our hearts and minds campaign just put into different terms."
Scott replied, "Ok, I'll give you that, but we took it one step further and maybe this could help you. Internalization is what's really needed. It is one thing to believe a concept in your heart and understand it in your mind. However, what really needs to happen is to put your hearts and minds to action is if the initiative is burned into your company's workflow DNA. It has to be part of who you are, what you stand for and it's like breathing...an everyday unrealized necessity."
Tom interrupted, "I hear what you are saying, but I've felt our hearts and minds campaign was to achieve what you say."
Scott smiled and replied, "Ya, it is hard to discern the difference of going beyond understanding and believing. Think of the rollercoaster ride were just on." Tom nodded with acknowledgement and Scott said, "during that rollercoaster ride were you thinking about anything else but the thrill of the ride?" Tom looked confused but said nothing. Scott continued, "During those turns at 70 miles an hour you were not thinking of your plans tonight or the things you need to do next week...you were at one with the rollercoaster and in the moment." "
I agree," Tom said.
Scott replied, "So, the same mind set needs to be ingrained in your people. Internalization is the next stage to take your people to get the adoption you need for your initiative."
Tom smiled and replied, "Yep, I know several who need and are going to get a rollercoaster ride!"
All the glasses were raised as dad made a toast, "To Mitch, congratulations for becoming the top banana out of the whole bunch. We wish you the brightest future and go confidently in pursuit of your dreams."
Everyone clanked their glasses and smiled with approval. The family and a few close friends had gathered to celebrate Mitch's promotion as he was the youngest in the firm to reach the director level. He would now join a peer group to collaborate on business events, but, at the same time, indirectly compete against each other for the next level of achieving "partner" status in the firm. Everyone went around the table to add some encouraging words or to offer a gift gesturing the sentiment of congratulations. One gift was an engraved paper weight, while another was a business card holder and all of them seemed to be straight from the Sharper Image catalog.
It was now grandpa's turn and everyone gave attention to observe respect for the patriarch of the family. Grandpa's health had recently deteriorated to the point of physically needing a walker and speaking with a slowing and slurred speech. Grandpa pulled a book out of a used and crinkled brown paper sack. The book was the Emperor's New Clothes, a popular fable for kids. Collectively, everyone's smiles faded and they looked at each other with concern for grandpa as this gift was for kids and certainly not for business.
Grandpa broke the silence clearing his voice and gently spoke, "That's the story of the narcissistic emperor where two swindlers tailored him a suit of clothes for a special public parade...remember?" The family nodded in acknowledgement to grandpa, but then looked at each other as if Grandpa was experiencing dementia. Grandpa continued, "The tailors conned everyone by saying that the fabric was invisible to anyone who was unfit for their position, so everyone was afraid to say something for fear of exposing themselves as being unfit. They kept up the pretenses even during the parade until a boy, who was too young to understand pretenses, pointed out the emperor was wearing nothin."
Mitch interrupted Grandpa with intentions to save his embarrassment and replied, "why thanks Gpa...I remember you telling me that story growing up."
Mitch looked at his wife and then his dad with concern. As the party wound down, Mitch helped dad take grandpa to the car. On the way home, Mitch was mostly pre-occupied with grandpa's sudden appearance of mental decay. He recounted with his wife that grandpa had been very active in Mitch's life, but now Mitch was suddenly very embarrassed for grandpa and equally felt sorry that a great man would mentally fall in this manner. This was the man who taught Mitch to fish, throw a baseball properly and even helped teach him to drive. Mitch could not understand what logical reason why grandpa would give him that book as opposed to a business nik-knack. Mitch rationalized that grandpa maybe grabbed that book by mistake, yet grandpa spoke at about the book at the party. Then Mitch thought maybe grandpa just didn't have anything else to give, but grandpa had plenty of resources so that wasn't true either.
By time Mitch's family reached home it was late. As Mitch's wife helped get their children ready for bed, Mitch rubbed the book with his hands trying to discern whether his grandpa was becoming unbalanced in his thinking. After a few pondering moments, Mitch thought he could at least put the book to some use by reading it to his children. Just then he opened the book and on the inside cover and the following message starred him in the face: Mitchie - I have long felt that you would reach a successful point in your life. Hopefully, this is the first in many to come. It is now important then ever that you become aware of the meaning of this fable. You see, most likely your peers will "keep with the pretenses" and let the emperor walk around without clothes. They will do this in an attempt to increase favor with the emperor. Mitchie, it will be important for you to have the courage to call out invisible clothes when you see them dressed on your emperor. You will stand alone holding true to your principles and the values of your company. You will have to balance how you can manage a relationship with those who keep the pretenses and with those who need you, alone, to point out the truth. I love you and pray for your courage. Congratulations, Grandpa.
Upon Mitch reading these words, tears raced down his face. Mitch's wife came down the stairs and noticed his crying condition.
"What happened?", she shrieked excitedly.
Mitch wiped some tears, gave a relieving smile and said, "I should have known, he's ok." Mitch's wife looked confused but said nothing. Mitch continued, "Unlike all those Sharper Image tokens, gpa gave the best gift anyone could ever receive!"
Just then he handed her the book opened to the message.
The teacher looked at his watch and announced, "30 seconds."
The teams echoed with chatter as they placed their finishing touches on their constructed towers. The object was for a group to build the tallest free-standing structure made from only marshmallows and toothpicks. The teacher barked, "Ok...hands away from your creations. Now we'll see some results of your planning, engineering and teamwork skills." The teacher extended the measuring tape from the container and slapped it on the table for an audio effect. "Remember," the teacher said, "the tower has stay standing while I measure from the table to the highest point." The teacher approached the first tower, which measured twenty-five inches. The group congratulated each other and waited patiently to hear the results from their competitors. The second group measured just shy of twenty-three inches so group one was still in the lead. Just at that moment, the tower of the last group fell, which spurred some collective gasps from the group.
One person from the fallen group protested, "You should have measured us first!"
As the teacher began measuring the fallen tower, the teacher quipped, "Ah, remember the structure has to stay standing." The teacher measured and reported, "twelve inches...group number one wins."
Another frustrated member from the third group announced, "I disagreed with the design from the start."
A second group member replied, "Well I did too."
Another member argued back, "Wait a minute...although I suggested the design, I was not sold on it, but you both agreed to it."
All three students started incoherently debating and the teacher interrupted by raising his hand in a pausing motion and clearing his throat. As the group quieted the teacher commented, "What you are experiencing is a classic case of the phenomenon known as the Abilene Paradox."
Two students from the fallen group simultaneously asked, "The Abilene what?"
The teacher giggled and replied, "Let's take our seats and I'll break it down for you." Once students returned to their seats, the teacher sat on the edge of the desk and started describing the scene for the Abilene Paradox. The teacher said, "Ok, a husband, wife and in-laws are back in the 1950's during a hot Sunday summer in the central Texas town outside of Abilene. This is before air-conditioning, paved roads and interstate highways. The four are sitting on their porch seeking a shady refuge from the sun. Assuming all are bored, the father in-law suggests they load into the car and travel 50 miles into Abilene to eat at the diner. Without objection they travel in a hot car down dusty roads, reaching a crowded diner and experiencing less than average food. Once back at home, all four found themselves exhausted and frustrated. The mother in-law stated that she didn't enjoy the trip and actually she never wanted to go in the first place. The daughter and the husband also express they too were not interested in going to Abilene. The father defends himself by saying he was only suggesting the trip because they were bored and they all agreed."
One student interrupts, "What does this mean to us?"
The teacher replied, "The conflict they developed came from an initial general agreement. Even though no one wanted to go to Abilene, everyone had irrational fears about voicing their objection."
Another student asked, "Why?"
The teacher responded, "Possibly several reasons, but the most popular is not wanting to appear obstinate to friends, family or co-workers. Most of us wish to avoid conflict in relationships at all costs, so we suppress voicing perceived unpopular feelings and truths."
A student in failed group replied, "That's me! I didn't agree with some of the marshmallow placements, but I didn't express my concern for fear of not being viewed as not a team player." The other students in the failed group nodded with general agreement.
The teacher raised his hands as if to include all the students into the conversation and said, "So what did we learn here?..We learned valuable lessons about planning the work and working the plan. We learned about teamwork and operating within time constraints. And most importantly"...
The teacher was interrupted by a student, "Most importantly we learned that bad group decisions can come through the appearance of agreement."
The teacher smiled and replied, "Yep, that's the best lesson you'll ever get out of a marshmallow...class dismissed!"
Tony recruited Doug to work for him years ago when company performance was at an unprecedented run in the market place. However, now results were on a plateau and Tony sensed the organization needed to move in a different direction to stay in front of the competitors. Tony held multiple conceptual sessions where he wanted the "minds" in the organization to think differently. He held working meetings where the management team set the strategies and tactics in place to achieve Tony's new directional objective. Doug was a key player with the company transition; however, the transition was moving slower then expected. Tony invited Doug to lunch to recap the most recent progress with the strategy and tactics. After they ate and reviewed some information, Tony pulled a small box out of his sports jacket and slid it across the table towards Doug. Doug was pleasantly surprised and had no idea what gift was concealed inside.
"What in the world is this?", Doug asked excitedly. Tony smiled and, without speaking, extended his hand out to gesture to open the box. As Doug opened the box, his face gave way to a perplexing smile as the gift was a yo-yo. Doug looked in wonder to Tony and pulled the yo-yo out of the box. The yo-yo actually appeared to be broken with its string unwound and intentionally knotted so that it could not be wound. Now Tony was known and admired for his unique wit, so Doug tried to solve this puzzle without asking Tony. After a few moments of silent smiling stares, Doug gave up. Doug said, "Well thank you...but I don't get it."
Tony replied, "It's symbolism for the situation we're in operationally."
Doug raised his eyebrows in confusion and replied, "I don't understand what a broken yo-yo has to do with our changes."
Tony raised his hand with his pointer finger in the way as if to signal to Doug to wait on the questioning. Tony replied, "Our tactics are not congruent with our strategy and that is part of the reason our organizational change is struggling."
Doug replied, "Right. We just covered some of our tactical challenges, but I don't know what that has to do with this broken yo-yo."
Tony pinched the bridge of his nose as if to find the right words. Tony replied, "Our management team needs to better understand when to spend time with forming strategy and executing tactics. When properly operated the yo-yo will unwind down and rewind up given the specific movements of the hand. Our management team must think strategy when the yo-yo is in the "up" rewind position and must disseminate tactics when unwound in the "down" position. Our problem is our management team is like this broken yo-yo where it is constantly unwound in the tactical position."
The analogy clicked with Doug and he eagerly responded, "Yes, I sense that every time we discuss a high-level concept the team can't help but get caught up in the details of a solution. Do you think that is part of our transitional problem towards our objective?"
Tony nodded and replied, "Our team jumps right to the detail of a concept without working through the strategic positioning to our objective. Our key people are the yo-yo and they need to know when to be wound in strategy and unwound in tactics. Until they understand the strategic approach we will take to reach our goal, how can we incorporate tactical tools to reach our strategy?" Doug nodded with acceptance, sat silent and let the analogy sink into his mind. Tony continued, "Doug, you are my biggest yo-yo and I need you to make sure all our other yo-yos are not broken like this one." They both laughed at the humor in the analogy as Doug picked up the yo-yo to inspect it.
Doug smiled and wittingly replied, "Yo...I am your yo-yo guy and we'll be doing "walk-the-dog" and other strategy tricks before you know it!"