Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Business Bestsller: A Recipe


Hey, you're a highly successful, awesome executive, right? Like a lot of highly successful, awesome executives, you probably have this problem. Not to fear: I've worked as a management consultant for 25 years and have developed techniques to deal with just this sort of problem. They will not only make you a more effective manager but will also let you achieve that illusive state of work/life balance and wicked, screaming project planning orgasms.

Interstitial 1

Out-of-context quote from an historical figure that seems to be eerily supportive of the author's thesis.

The Insight

My [careful and exhaustive study / perusal of a Wikipedia entry] has lead me to the surprising conclusion that [the martial art of karate / thought of the Logical Positivists / ancient folkloric practice of Tibetan Yak Dancing] has surprising applications for the contemporary human resources professional.

Interstitial 2

Out of context quote from a well-known author or sports figure that seems only tangentially related to the subject at hand.

The Method

Never more than three core principles, each of them seeming just obvious enough that it feels intuitive but phrased in such a way that it appears terribly unique and insightful. Intersperse these with testimonials from ordinary people who have practiced these techniques with great success but do not, in fact, exist.

Interstitial 3

Highly relevant quote from someone the reader has never heard of and turns out to be the author's collaborator on a prior book.


Extended case study of the most successful and widely-known adherents of the author's approach, demonstrating that you too can be the CEO of a major airline if you religiously practice the techniques you've just learned, attend Harvard Business School and are born to a father who owned a majority stake in a major airline.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Following Guest

It used to be when you were the next person on line and suddenly it was your turn, the person behind the counter said "May I help the next customer, please?" I liked that. It was succinct, accurate, polite and respectful.

Somewhere along the way it became simply "Next customer!" Now it was a command, not a request. No longer polite, but still clear and accurate.

Then we got "Next guest!" That's when I started to have a problem.

I'm not your guest. We are conducting a business transaction. I have different expectations of someone who is providing me with a good or service in exchange for money than I do of someone who is providing hospitality to me out of a spirit of friendship and benevolence.

In the last couple of months, I've detected the beginnings of a transition to "Following guest!"

First of all, what a complete 180-degree flip of the perspective of customer service. From my perspective, I'm about to be served: I'm next. It's only from your perspective behind the counter that I'm 'following', i.e. I'm the new schmuck after the previous one in the uninterrupted chain of schmucks that marches up to your counter. I guess that's the message the people in management who came up with the customer service script wanted to send. OK: duly noted.

Secondly, I'm not being lead to you by the random stranger who happened to wind up on line in front me. Our relative positions in no way imply a relationship of leadership or stalkerism. I don't follow anyone.