Sunday, June 14, 2009

"In Pursuit of Something Better"-Jack Rooney Brings a Lackluster Corp to Life-Book Reviews

"The Pursuit of Something Better" is a story of a small cellular service company that rockets from the bottom of the pile when a new and visionary CEO joins the team.

Read this story by David Esler and Myra Kruger about how paying attention to ALL employees and good leadership brings results in both employee morale and the bottom line.

Plus, how could my local Walmart benefit by a lesson from Rooney's "Dynamic Organization"?


Pic of the Day
cow stuck under fence




The Pursuit of Something Better by Dave Esler and Myra Kruger

This past week I made a trip to a super-super Walmart near me. I needed a lot of things and intended to stock up in a store that I think is the least expensive of any other in my area, hands down. I rode an extra fifteen miles out of my way just to purchase those items in one large trip that would keep me from such a jaunt for a few more months.

I needed some cheap wash cloths. Sure we all put out our prettiest things for company and such but I wanted a couple to hang behind the shower doors and put to gritty use.

Sure enough I found nice, adequate wash clothes for $1.00 each. They weren’t the softest in the world and would likely only survive thirty washings or so. But get enough of the things and I’d be set for wash clothes for a couple of years.

I got three rust colored wash cloths and two oatmeal colored ones. I I also needed some dish towels and quick I found some for $1.50 each, indeed I purchased five dish towels in the same color combination.

The cashier rang up all of the dish towels, no problem. She rang up the three rust colored wash cloths, no problem. The two oatmeal colored wash clothes…no UPC code.

She presses the thing that makes the problem light come on at her station. “I am going to need a UPC code on these,” she said and continued to ring up the rest of my considerable order. In fact, the total of my order that day came to over $310.00 so I was a customer who’d spent some bucks at the store.

I shrugged because since she had to ring up the rest of my order I didn’t care if the light blinked until help arrived to find the UPC code of the oatmeal wash cloths. Which were exactly the same as the rust wash cloths at $1.00 each and the dish towels were $1.50 each so the cost was no big deal to ascertain is what I’m saying here. I asked the cashier why she didn’t use the UPC code of the rust colored dish cloths because the price was the same.

“They are a different color,” she said, firmly and in a tone that would brook no nonsense.

Of course she rings up the total order of over three hundred bucks and still whoever was supposed to show up to find the UPC code of oatmeal color wash clothes was nowhere to be found. There were a couple of people in line behind me after my big order and the cashier just, poof, stopped and waited for the phantom savior or missing UPC codes to show up as I, the customer who’d just spent three hundred bucks, and others, tired and ready to ring up their orders, waited.

“So we should just stand here and wait?” I asked.

The cashier shrugged. “Somebody will be here soon.”

“Serious…” I continued…”you can’t use the rust colored cloths UPC codes?”

“They are a different color,” she said. Well hey, I get this. But they are the same PRICE. We were talking a transaction here with a grand total of…count ‘em…TWO DOLLARS. For this she was holding up a customer who’d just spent considerable money and others waiting in line?

I told her to just forget the oatmeal colored wash cloths. She shrugged, completed my sale and that was that.

Now I understand that inventory is affected in these sorts of transactions. Had she used the rust colored wash cloths’ UPC codes well damn, the system would have deducted two rust colored wash cloths from the inventory while two oatmeal colored ones would have remained in the inventory and we can’t have that.

This sort of thing would NEVER happen at U.S. Cellular under the leadership of Jack Rooney. Because in that company, with a reknown CEO who has gained a reputation far and wide for bringing his company from the dark shadows of obscurity to one that wins awards and became the benchmark for corporate success.

That Walmart cashier could have used the UPC codes of the rust colored wash cloths and made a note for some IT type to manually adjust the inventory. Computers have the ability to do such things but obviously Walmart is not headed by Jack Rooney, the man who changed U.S. Cellular to a company of corporate envy.

Amazon Code for “Pursuit of Something Better”



Employees of U.S. Cellular, via a closely watched system of surveys and leadership encouragement, would learn almost immediately upon hiring that leaving a customer standing like I was left cooling my heels, or the folks in line behind me, all to maintain a COMPANY convenience, would never do.

Walmart has the ability to keep prices low and very competitive down pat. Walmart obviously doesn’t think enough of its employees to trust the MOST important person on the Walmart team to lead the charge to better service to, well lead the charge to better service. Who is most visible to most Walmart customers? That would be the cashier!

U.S. Cellular is mostly a Midwest company, marketing, as its name would imply, cellular phone services. It was in competition with mighty Sprint and Verizon. It was the era when cellular phone companies had the advantage as cell phones were being bought by every American as the technology and mastery of manufacture made prices affordable by the vast majority of the public.

Enter Jack Rooney.

Rooney made a name for himself as CEO of other technological companies before being hired on by U.S. Cellular. Jack Rooney had a vision.

He called it the “Dynamic Organization” and yes, many called it meaningless psychobabble.

If Walmart were a Dynamic Organization that cashier would have smiled, rung up my oatmeal washcloth using the rust colored one’s UPC code. Discretely she would have made a note of the transaction and when appropriate she would approach her leader and asked that a manual entry be made to correct any inventory error that might remain because of how she handled the sale of the oatmeal wash cloths.

Her leader, in a Dynamic Organization, would have congratulated the cashier for how deftly she handled the situation and praised for having sent a customer home happy, kept the ones in line unaware of any snafu and would insure that the inventory affected would be handled by the department in charge of such things with a smile and good wishes.

The word “dynamic” implies any energy, a pleasant movement, brought about by an interaction in which all participants in the interaction get involved and work with all other participants eagerly to a pleasant outcome.

A Dynamic Organization would therefore be one that has all parts of the company working with joyful energy with all other parts creating a zeal and joy that almost feeds upon itself.

Jack Rooney did more than just talk about an organization that had all parts working together to achieve the final goal of a profitable company with happy customers. Jack Rooney followed his concept through, using “Culture Surveys” that had employees feedback on how well they perceived the company was doing as well as thoughts on their own leaders.

These “Culture Surveys” became the engine that drove Rooney forward to achieve that Dynamic Organization. They were not just mindless employee surveys that were dutifully taken and just as dutifully ignored. The Culture Surveys were closely watched. Issues as addressed in the surveys were addressed by leaders in charge of the manner. In due course employees at U.S. Cellular became intrigued, almost enchanted, that the company REALLY did care about them.

Dave Esler and Myra Kruger write a clear and happy book about the U.S. Cellular success story. It’s a story of how a struggling little known company came from obscurity to win five consecutive J.D. Power awards for customer satisfaction.

As I read the book I became eager to sign up for a company with a leader such as Jack Rooney. For in my lifetime I’ve had the opportunity to be a leader of many departments for various and diverse employees. I was Accounting Manager of a busy hospital accounting department as well as of a government contractor. I managed up to 15 employees. I know too well the value of a dedicated employee and I’ve learned that in order to inspire employees to better things there is nothing more important than leadership that presents a good example and follows through.

It’s not as much about a Dynamic Organization or any other catchy names one might put to it. It’s about a leader who cared and continually cared. It’s about a CEO who didn’t sit back and ride it out until retirement.

Read “The Pursuit of Something Better” for a real lessons, well-written with optimism and the sound knowledge that it CAN be done inculcated into every upbeat word.

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"The Pursuit of Something Better" is a story of a small cellular service company that rockets from the bottom of the pile when a new and visionary CEO joins the team.

Read this story by David Esler and Myra Kruger about how paying attention to ALL employees and good leadership brings results in both employee morale and the bottom line.

Plus, how could my local Walmart benefit by a lesson from Rooney's "Dynamic Organization"?

HERE
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