July 2011


The interview below was filmed backstage at the Chick-fil-a Leadercast.  Below is a quote that should make you want to watch all 12 minutes of the interview.

There’s more upside differentiation on service than there is on the next flavor of milkshake.  All the chemical, food pieces of it are much easier to duplicate than some of the service components.  We’re going to continue to have great tasting food but we’re going to put a service experience that is as if you are eating at a Macaroni Grill or Houston’s Restaurant or some swanky restaurant where you’d pay 2 or 3 times the price.  Customers really love it.

There’s a lot to like in this interview but here is the performance take-away that I got, high quality products are easier to replicate than high quality customer service.  If it was easy everyone would be doing it.  Watch the video to learn how Chick-fil-a is providing great customer service.

According to recent research, “human memory is reorganizing where it goes for information, adapting to new computing technologies rather than relying purely on rote memory. We’re outsourcing “search” from our brains to our computers.”

Putting Google in the headline captures people’s attention but I believe we should consider the effect of social media too.  Our daily milieu includes RSS news feeds, Facebook updates, tweets, text messages, and blog posts.  How many of us use those tools to get information?  I do.

What are the implications for learning?  Ubiquitous access to information has expanded the phenomenon of informal learning.  Wikipedia describes informal learning as, “semi-structured and occur[ing] in a variety of places, such as learning at home, work, and through daily interactions and shared relationships among members of society.”  This is not new.  Wisdom has always been passed from generation to generation.  Everyone has taught and learned from our peers.

But there is a difference between simply consuming information and learning.  Surfing the web and staying informed via social media requires very little cognitive effort.  In Bloom’s taxonomy the lowest level of cognition is knowledge or remembering.  If the research cited above is accurate, the internet is causing us to remember less, in other words rely less on our memory.  Does this mean that we forget information as quickly as we take it in?  Probably not.  Years of cognitive research is clear that the brain stores the information we consume.  So how can we make use of this information?

One way is to blog.  Taking time to reflect on the substance of an article, news item, or other information moves your cognitive activity from knowledge to comprehension.  One step may not seem like a big deal but it the difference between being a consumer of information and actively engaging in learning.  I believe that is one of the under-appreciated aspects of blogging.  The process of writing this post not only has the potential of  influencing others (hopefully for the better) but it also enables me to integrate the substance of the article into my knowledge base.

The great thing is its free.  It didn’t require a budget, a meeting space or a team of developers.  All that is required is an engaged mind that does not simply consume information but is intentional in understanding what it is taking in.

According to research cited by Daniel Pink greater monetary rewards actually have a negative impact on performance.    In his book Drive, he cites three factors that do motivate people in today’s knowledge-based workplace: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.  But there is a prerequisite, paying people enough that money does not factor into their day-to-day thinking.

In the 10 minute video below he explains how he came to this conclusion.

Autonomy: the desire to be self-directed.  According to Daniel Pink autonomy leads to engagement.  But what is engagement?  To paraphrase a familiar response, I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.  In the example from the video, Mr. Pink points to a company that has benefited from giving employees complete autonomy for one day each quarter.  In his words, “getting out of the way.”  Once a quarter works in the example but autonomy looks different depending on the context.  To me, one day every three months is not really autonomy.

Mastery: outstanding skill; expertise.  If there isn’t a monetary reward, what motivates a person to master something?  Passion.  People excel at what they love.  How do you know what your passions are?  One way to find out is to take the Strong Interest Inventory.  This tool provides valid and reliable insights into a person’s interests and how they can satisfy them.  Alignment between a person’s passion and their work is powerful.  When there is alignment between these two factors a person pursues challenges and opportunities to improve.  Who wouldn’t want that kind of person working for them?

Purpose: the reason for which something is done.  In the video, Mr. Pink notes that “when the profit motive gets unmoored from the purpose motive bad things happen.”  Their are plenty of examples of bad corporate behavior but I think there is a bigger point to be made.  People are drawn to a purpose they believe in.  Starbucks emphasizes global responsibility.  Apple focuses on innovation.  At Disneyland “imagination is the destination.”

What happens if your organization addresses some but not all of these factors?  For example, providing autonomy without mastery.  That could be disastrous.  Mastery without purpose leads to burnout.  Autonomy without purpose lacks focus.

I got the title for this post from chapter two of Guy Kawasaki’s book Enchantment.  Its not terribly poetic but it raises a good point.  We all have days when we are not particularly likable.  It takes effort and intentionality.
Mr. Kawasaki lays out 11 ways to achieve likability.  Some of them are listed in the graphic below.

Click here to watch a 9 minute interview by Michael Hyatt that focuses on the entire book.

Click here to view a webinar on likability (approximately 1 hour, registration required).  Click here to view the webinar slides.

According to research cited in an article published in Chief Learning Officer magazine 80% of learners do not apply learning successfully.  The author of the article calls this scrap learning.  In other words a waste of organizational resources.

What is the key to getting results from training?  Manager engagement.  The author of the study provides tips for managers to turn training into learning and thus have a positive impact on performance.

Before training, it is helpful for the manager to assess the business case. Is the employee the right person to attend training? Is it the right time? Are the costs appropriate? Additionally, the manager should meet with the learner pre-event to set learning and performance expectations, and they should create an action plan together. These managerial actions help to ensure that training is valuable to the learner and is fully aligned with business goals. Further, the conversation and expectation setting prepares the learner for the actual training event.

After training, the manager should review the action plan with the learner to determine if it still aligns with what was taught. As the learner applies training on the job, the manager must supervise and provide meaningful praise and feedback to reinforce success and correct mistakes. It is also the manager’s responsibility to seek projects, events or situations where the learner can hone new skills.  (emphasis mine)