The Extra Mile

Getting it Right

I’ve had some problems with my Dell PC / Windows XP. My friend hopefully isolated the problem with a file called: kmixer.sys.

I don’t know what that means. What I do know that everything seems to work OK. That’s all I want. And I am happy.

Businesses/organizations get into patterns….often being satisfied with being average or maybe above average.

Outstanding businesses are extraordinary….and that is what creates growth and profitability. I would venture that in making their customers happy they always go—-The Extra Mile.

My friend went The Extra Mile to see that we found the problem and made the fix. I was a happy client.

Reinvention 3

SAS Institute

SAS is the software powerhouse company in Cary. It is a world-class company. Yet with some big competitors ready to take it on….IBM for one. Interesting because IBM is also a major company  in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill/Cary area.

SAS’s expertise is in business intelligence with sophisticated analytical software.

A recent article in The New York Times (11.22.09) profiled SAS in depth.

Here’s a key statement:

“We know we have to change-no question about it. Our market space has changed dramatically in the last 18 months or so, more than any time over the 33-year history of the company. We can’t sit back. things are going to get faster.”

SAS has always attracted great talent. I believe they can take on IBM.

Like most great businesses if they have to reinvent themselves they will.

Reinvention 2

A New Town

The city where I grew up has reinvented itself….at least the downtown area. Western Ave. use to be like any town’s main street….movie theaters….dime stores….depatment stores and numerous specialty shops.

In the 70’s, Western Ave. was enclosed in a semi-mall fashion. Not a great idea….several years ago the whole downtown area was torn down. The only buildings remaining from the circle north are a seven story bank in the background and three smaller buildings to the left (behind the new building on the corner). The classic Frauenthal theater is at the immediate right.

Not many communities would have torn everything down and started over.

Muskegon is still an industrial town and is not doing well at the moment. It will take several more years for the economy to stabilize and the downtown to be fully rebuilt. In addition, there is a need to rebuild the infrastructure and rehabilitate  housing. And yes….it does get cold and snowy in the winter.

Muskegon….does get an A+ for reinventing itself and I am pleased with that.


Dell and others

A friend wrote recently:

“Moving forward demands constant reinvention. How else do we progress except by inventing better plows, better technology, better ideas, better wheels?”

Business Week (10.26.09) had a story on Dell….”Dell’s Do-Over.” Michael Dell, the founder has installed an almost completely new management team to turn around the company.

Here’s the telling point: Dell is being restructured to focus on the customer. It seems to me that’s what business is all about. As Dell grew to a multibillion dollar business….it lost its focus on the customer.

The Chicago Tribune had a recent story on United Airlines: “United Airlines works to reconnect with customers and restore battered reputation.”  No wonder United has such a poor reputation. Who in the heck was running these businesses any way?

No Customers=No Business!

There are businesses that haven’t changed their business model: Those are the ones that deliver great products and services and meet customers needs. However, they must be the best at what they do.

Most businesses must change over the years (markets change-products change)….they must constantly reinvent the wheel.


Where it all starts!

For any business/organization, its effectiveness….longevity….success begins at the foundation….It’s the GrassRoots that count.

We put in a new lawn this fall. In North Carolina, for fescue to survive over a hot summer….it has to be stated in the fall for the roots to get firmly established.

The same is true for business/organizations. I wrote in the past about a non-profit that has almost disintegrated. Their property had to be sold….numbers declined by more than 50%.

They had not established a firm foundation (purpose) for the group to exist. People no longer supported this group because the grassroots were never firmly established.

If  enterprises are to face current challenges….there has to be a grassroots structure in place for them to grow and/or reinvent what they do.

TrueNorth post #201

The Blue Screen

Dell Vostro 200-Windows XP

I like my Dell PC….I think it was a good value.

Yet….this past week I got The Blue Screen. Now the Blue Screen is associated with the operating system….in my case Windows XP. I don’t think I did anything wrong. My Dell and XP have performed well for the past year and a half. I don’t add new hardware or software and only update programs when necessary.

So why The Blue Screen?

Realistically….these things happen. From a business perspective when a problem arises find a solution. My friend came over and tried a bunch of things….I only want my problem fixed.

Lesson Learned: Develop solutions to a customer’s problem.

Esprit de corps

Pride + Determination

PoppyToday, Nov. 11,  is Veterans Day in the US. Growing up in Michigan it use to be Poppy Day and it still is in Canada. On almost every street corner, there were veterans selling  poppy pins….recognizing their pride and determination.

So what makes great businesses/organizations. Of course it’s a whole gamut of doing things right….superior products/services ….understanding the market and customer.

espirit de corpsYet….there ‘s more to great companies. From my experience it is an environment of pride and determination….esprit de corps.

In the Air Force at times, there was a stong esprit de corps. Esprit de corps for the most part depends on leaders. In our family business, we had it. In the small company I worked with in North Carolina….the owners didn’t have it….the people who ran the plant did.

The organizations that recognize the value of esprit de corps will be the ones ready for the future. It’s an intangibile….something that can’t be quantified….it has to be an intrinsic way on how great businesses/organizations are led and managed.