Lousy Hotel Service and a Win for this Consumer

Om my last trip to Paris (the marathon volcano trip) I spent two weeks at a favourite hotel in Montparnasse. Service was less than acceptable. I drove back from work one evening, exhausted, and was looking forward to a quiet room service dinner and a good book. I picked up my phone and it didn’t work. I went down the hall to the phone by the elevators and picked it up. It didn’t work. I went down to the lobby and asked them to fix it, ordered my dinner and went back to my room. The next day, the phone still didn’t work. Back down to the lobby again. The shower couldn’t hold a constant temperature. Two of the table lamps didn’t work. The day before I was to leave I went down to reception, confirmed I would leave the next day and paid my bill in advance. I got back from work to find my key didn’t work. I called down and 15 minutes went by until a security guard came up to tell me I was checked out. I told him I went down in the morning to pay my bill for the next day and offered to show him the invoice. He declined as I was fuming. He opened the door and gave me the key. When it came time to fill out the customer satisfaction survey, I was direct with my displeasure. Fast forward to last week…

I am back in Paris tomorrow. The only hotel I could get was my favourite (not so much anymore) and the rate had jumped from 120 euros a night to 299! I tried in vain to get another hotel that was relatively close to the office and not a dive. I needed HS internet and parking. No luck. The hotel sent a very apologetic e-mail and offered me VIP treatment on my next trip when they read my feedback. I replied that there was no way I would come back at a rate of 299 – not for the level of service I experienced last time. They replied back in 30 minutes with a new rate of 120 Euros a night with breakfast and free internet access. Score one for the consumer. I am about to leave my house for the airport. I am off to Paris and looking forward to seeing how serious they are about cleaning up their act.


Integrating the Opposite and Impossible

I’ve been reading “The Opposable Mind” by Roger Martin. The book is about how the best ideas and solutions to problems come from taking seemingly opposing views, and rather than making trade-offs, to integrate the opposing ideas to create something new. Another term that has been used for this is “synthesis”. In this context, synthesis is NOT about taking vast information and simplifying it into a few key points. It is about taking wildly differing perspectives and by holding these thoughts in your mind, finding a new solution that is not an either or decision.

Martin shares examples of some of the great integrative thinkers. Issy Sharp, the genius behind the Four Seasons Hotels, who wanted a hotel that offered a small, intimate home-like environment, but also offer the services expected by business travellers, which could only be offered in the larger hotels. A.G. Lafley, who brought innovation back to Proctor and Gamble, and created entirely new leading brands. Martha Graham, who invented modern dance and integrated sculpture, music, and dance into an entirely new experience for show-goers. There are many others, including Meg Whitman of eBay, Nandan Nilekani of Infosys Technologoes, filmmaker Atom Egoyan, and business management guru Peter Drucker, to name a few.

There’s an interesting section in Chapter 4 – Dancing with Complexity.

Continue reading

Do You Really Want to Motivate Your Employees?

Well then, watch this! It turns Command & Control on its head and makes you think deeply about real motivations. If you are treating your employees as “resources”, interchangeable parts in a big machine, you’re destined to motivate only the most unskilled labour. This is an eye-opener! Motivating employees “the right way” leads to innovation, deep learning, engagement, and a cultural change in your business.

Building Better Metrics

I have seen my share of good and bad metrics. And I continue to get it wrong. Then I learn and try again. Below are some of the guidelines I am using for developing useful metrics.

  1. TIE METRICS TO BUSINESS GOALS – seems obvious but a metric tells you something, and if that something cannot be tied directly to a business goal, why are you using it?
  2. GET ALIGNED ON THE GOALS BEFORE YOU START – it’s amazing how two people can look at the same goal and interpret it in completely different ways. Make the effort.
  3. BALANCED VIEW – weight your metrics so that you avoid over-rotating on any one or small set of measures. A balanced view of metrics provides a holistic picture.
  4. ORTHOGONAL METRICS – rather than use one complicated metric, develop two or three simpler ones that provide a faceted view of what you are trying to measure. The goal here is to avoid metric gaming and having a few metrics that look at a goal from different points of view. The benefit is simplicity without being simplistic. Measuring a complex system requires different views and synthesis to deliver the big picture.
  5. THE NAPKIN TEST – if you can’t write your metric calculation on a napkin and explain it in less than a minute, it is too complicated. Continue reading

Mature Scrum

This is a follow-up post to Dinner with Jeff Sutherland, where Jeff talked about Systematic and the two LEAN metrics for driving improvements; 1) Process Efficiency, and 2) Fix time after failed builds. More details are now available in a paper titled Mature Scrum at Systematic.

Systematic combined a LEAN operating model, SCRUM as the project management framework allowing for flexibility and adaptability, and CMMI to institutionalize these elements into the culture of the organization, driving discipline and measurability. More information as well on how User Stories are prepared to a READY-READY state before being allowed to enter the Sprint. The grooming of the backlog and preparing User Stories is done in parallel to the Sprint.