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Truth never gets old… December 7, 2009

Posted by Muckzak in Moments of Truth, Uncategorized.
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Reading ‘Moments of Truth’ by Jan Carlzon was like getting into the old trusty DeLorean and zapping back to the future (I now realize that opening blog lines referencing films from decades ago is my thing…) – it was familiar, predictable and innovative for its time. 

The book was originally published in 1987.  Email was unheard of in the average household, airline tickets were actually booked through agents and not one case study had been written on the genius of SWA.  Given this point of reference, the book was actually refreshing to read and included a great roadmap for leading a company in both strategy and execution. 

A leader develops a comprehensive strategy primarily oriented towards the needs of the market it serves.  Customer focus is the key and all objectives begin from the customer’s point of view.  Once the objectives are determined, the leader has to articulate and communicate to the board of directors, the unions and the employees.  You have to then empower people to achieve the goal and establish measures to ensure the company is headed in the right direction.  Empowering people means delegating and, often, this works best with a flatter organizational structure. 

Here are several insights that I thought were worth sharing:

  • Giving someone the freedom to take responsibility releases resources that would otherwise remain concealed
  • An individual without information cannot take responsibility, an individual who is given information cannot help but take responsibility.
  • A leader is not appointed because he knows everything and can make every decision.  He is appointed to bring together the knowledge that is available and then create prerequisites for the work to be done. 
  • When you are oriented toward your customers, you are probably in the business of providing them with a service in addition to the ‘hardware’ itself. 

The book was a quick read and I would definitely keep it on my shelf as a quick litmus test when trying to put the customer first without losing sight of leading an organization.

Prepare your organization for moments of truth December 7, 2009

Posted by Ignacio Larrain in Moments of Truth, [Books] Leadership & Change.
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In this book Jan Carlzon – CEO of SAS Group from 1981 to 1994 – talks about moments of truth and how can companies make the best out of them. A moment of truth is a moment in which we interact with a customer and this interaction helps build this client’s perception of what the company is. These moments of truth are critical since this is what clients will remember and many times they will decide after that moment if they would like to stay as customers of the company or if they will seek other alternatives. This looks great in paper, but the problem arises in the implementation stage since those moments of truth are mostly very short moments – sometimes less than twenty seconds – and a company has thousands of them every day. And all employees, but especially those in the front line, will be responsible for shaping customers’ perceptions at every moment of truth.

In the book Jam Carlzon talks about different issues we should consider to create the necessary environment to take real advantage of those moments.

This is a short list of some interesting elements from the book that can help us move in this proposed direction:

  • Move from a production-driven company to a service-driven company
  • The job of a leader is not to make all the decisions but to generate conditions for others to do theirs jobs better
  • The ability to delegate responsibilities is crucial
  • The company needs to have a clear and simple vision that everyone understands and shares
  • Flatter organizations: everyone closer to clients and more responsibility to the front line
  • Role of middle management changes from decision making to being responsible for getting those resources needed by the front line
  • If front-line employees are now more responsible they have to become more comfortable with risk taking. A culture of job security and tolerance for mistakes if then needed.
  • Work on communication skills both within and outside the company. Clear and simple messages are the most powerful ones.
  • Measure results from a customer’s point of view
  • Reward your employees