Focusing on Metrics

Many years ago, United Airlines told its reservations center (when human beings were still taking all reservations) that the primary strategic objective was superior customer service. Hence, agents were to carefully explain to all callers the options for fares, routing, use of frequent flyer miles, etc. Sounds like a sane strategy being communicated to tactical levels, right? Wrong. United measured the effectiveness of the call center based on number of calls process per agent, per hour. See any cognitive dissonance …



An Award I Won’t Show Up For

The following is absolutely true. On Monday I received a call from someone I’ll call “Howie” from the Institute of Management Consulting (IMC). His voice message told me that the organization wanted to give me an award, and was curious as to whether I’d be attending the convention next month in Reno to receive it. I returned the call, but he wasn’t in. I found it odd that the IMC would be awarding me anything, especially since the convention was …


The Agony of Small Business Consulting

For those consulting to small businesses, and I mean primarily those that are owned and/or run by the founder or founder’s family, I want to extend my sincere admiration and also deepest sympathies. This is one of the very toughest markets in the world, outside of the Russian mob. The reasons: 1. The decisions are almost purely emotional, not rational. 2. Prior successes lead the owner to believe that he or she is brilliant in all things under the sun. …


Great Fiction List

Olivia Fox Cabane, a mentor member who calls me “the great god of consulting” and consequently receives priority treatment, asked me for a list of my favorite all-time fiction for her to work on. Off the top-of-my-head, here’s what I provided: The Grapes of Wrath QB VII The Great Gatsby The Last Tycoon Stranger in A Strange Land A Prayer for Owen Meany Rabbit Run The Prince of Tides Main Street Madame Bovary An American Tragedy Jude the Obscure A …


Cape Cod Journal: September 25

Just twelve of us at the spectacular pool here, too windy for the beach, but high 70s in the air and low 80s in the pool. The pool has underwater speakers so you hear music whenever your ears are below the surface. At first, I thought I had some kind of narcosis. But it was only The Allman Brothers. Well, I’m pretty impressed. The near-perfect conditions haven’t hurt, and Cape Cod without tourists is what one would think God intended. …


Cape Cod Journal: September 24

Cape Cod Redux We began the season on the Cape and are ending it here again, in Chatham, but this time at the Chatham Bar Inn. We found things a tad frosty here when we stopped in for dinner in June, so we’re staying now for a few days to see if we’ll book it for next summer. So far, so good. By the time I had turned into the circle and stopped the car, the doorman had determined where …


Guest Column: Notre Dame and Rutgers

(This is a guest column from Dan Coughlin, a member of my Mentor Hall of Fame. You can find the original on his blog. You can find the Hall of Fame here.) September 23, 2007 Rutgers and Notre Dame: The Story of Two Teams I have a good friend, Alan Weiss, who is a graduate of Rutgers University. I’m a grad of the University of Notre Dame. In 2002, ND played Rutgers and was a 40-point favorite. Alan was willing …