Service As A Center For Excellence


If anyone out there manages a team  you know that one of the biggest challenges is helping the team to see the bigger picture. This is, in my case, a challenge because a) the job requires being in the details and b) it is easy to become jaded when you are feeling like you are not a part of the decision making. What I decided to do was meet with my VP to get a list of the strategic initiatives of our department (supply chain). Armed with this list I, along with my counterpart, scheduled a monthly meeting with our teams to have a workshop focused around how we directly impact the strategic initiatives of our department. We have found this to be a great spend of time to not only get the whole team to see how we impact the bigger picture which is motivating, but also a chance to identify rising talent.

This month we used three prompts to guide a reflection and discussion around the below three topics. We followed a framework of presenting the topic, having each individual reflect on what that means to them, read the prompt, and then had a discussion. The discussion was productive and led to both short and long term actions we could take as a team, this could work for almost any business function.

Three topics:

  1. Get to know your audience (relationships = results)
  2. Little things we do that make a difference/stand out
  3. The real outcome we are providing with each task

Three prompts we used that guided each reflection and discussion topic:

  1. From Seth’s Book, This Is Marketing: The Lock and The Key It doesn’t make any sense to make a key and then run around look for a lock to open. The only productive solution is to find a lock and then fashion a key. It’s easier to make products and services for the customer you seek to serve than it is to find customers for your products and services.
  2. From Derek Siver’s Book, Anything You Want: “Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th. I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!” That one silly email, sent out with every order, has been so loved that if you search the web for “private CD Baby jet,” you’ll get almost a thousand results. Each one is somebody who got the email and loved it enough to post it on his website and tell all his friends. That one goofy email created thousands of new customers. When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts and come up with world-changing massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you.
  3. From Seth’s Book, This Is Marketing: Harvard Marketing professor Theodore Levitt famously said, “People don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill bit. They want a quarter-inch hole.” The Lesson is that the drill bit is merely a feature, a means to an end, but what people truly want is the hole it makes. But that doesn’t go nearly far enough. No one wants a hole. What people want is the shelf that will go on the wall once they drill the hole. Actually, what they want is how they’ll feel once they see how uncluttered everything is, when they put their stuff on the shelf that went on the wall, now that there’s a quarter inch hole. But wait….They also want the satisfaction of knowing they did it themselves. Or perhaps the increase in status they’ll get when their spouse admires the work. Or the peace of mind that comes from knowing that the bedroom isn’t a mess, and that it feels safe and clean. So, People don’t want to buy a quarter inch drill bit. They want to feel safe and respected. Bingo.


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