Monday, August 20, 2007

Sher Value: Bringing Meaning into the company

As I am planning to join the ranks of motivational speakers I am doing a fair bit if research and some interesting pieces of information are, ofcourse, popping up. However, the more I am digging into the heart of corporate culture and as a consequence, the nature of humans in management I believe some startling revelations surface.

In the first place examining 15 corporate mission statements for companies in the region I was shocked at the way each has used words that either they don’t understand, or words they preached but never really implement. Superlatives such as ‘excellence’ ‘quality’ ‘care’ and others are dropped with such continuity that it is almost as if the proponents of those words in the vision statements of companies want to believe them also.

When one observes the business leaders of these companies with such super vision companies sooner or later, usually before the 15th minute, they have either contradicted themselves or, more commonly, contradicted the very vision statement that they have so eagerly professed on glossy 300 gram paper. In a few cases if one were to refer to the vision statement of the same company as the business leader of the company and without telling him or her you quote from their own vision it is more likely that the business person will not have picked up you were referring to their, not your, vision statement.

Why does this happen?

A variety of reasons but principally a great deal of them believe in the management hype but not the content of the message. In a great number of cases the vision statement was either drafted by a wordsmith from a public relations company or by the coterie around the business leader without the rank and file of the company being involved. In some disastrous cases the by lines of the corporate brand were developed by a marketing and branding company who really have done nothing other than play with words.

The ethos of a company has to be reflected into the communication strategy and not that first the brand tag lines are ‘invented’ and then ‘owned’ by the company. Great companies learn to deliver what they promise, and deliver day in and day out without exception. Companies like Jetblue airways, the low fare airline that created a buzz, have a work ethic that seeps from the top down which shows the care they put in. David Neeleman, the founder and Chairman of JetBlue Airways flies each week on the airline so he can speak to the customers and he lead question is ‘what can we do to improve things?’

More importantly the company operations team each month will deconstruct each delay and examine the reasons for it and what could have been done for the passenger to improve things. The airline has the second best punctuality record of the airlines in the US. The policy on arrival is that within 20 minutes the baggage should be in the hand of the passenger. ‘Give him a 45 minute wait after a one hour flight and that is the last thing he will remember.’ Neeleman knows most of his employees by their first name and drives himself, no fancy cars and a drummed down lifestyle.

Lets learn.

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