It has been awhile since I posted on a book that I’ve read. A couple of months ago, I finished My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud’Homme. I enjoyed living through Julia’s words from the 40s through the 60s, a time when both the world and her life changed greatly. My friends know that I’m an active reader, and often write in books, as well as turn pages over to mark interesting passages. So, what did I find interesting in Julia’s book?
- “The word is not the thing.” Borrowed from semanticist Alfred Korzybski, this was one of Julia’s husband’s favorite sayings. I’m a word geek, so this resonated with me. (As I typed that I used my OED subscription to make sure I knew the etymology of resonance.) This is a great saying to remind us that words aren’t sufficient often times in communication. One of the best things we did in the Innovation Lab was hire Anna Simmons to help us visualize our words, as an additional way of communicating between ourselves and with customers. I think designers are so lucky that they have this additional outlet to help express themselves!
- Ta-Da. When Julia finished her first book, she declared a “ta-da”. I’m a believer in “ta-das”. Just before I left Intuit, we had started using them in the Innovation Lab. One challenge working with high achievers is that they often forget to step back and realize their accomplishments. Usually when they solve a problem, rather than feeling proud, they are annoyed that it took them so long to figure it out… it all seems so clear once you know the answer. Our “ta-da” effort in the Lab was meant to make sure that we realized when we solved problems… and besides that it was fun!
- “I just walk away from it–fin!” When Julia decided to stop going to her house in France, her niece was having a tough time leaving the place. Her niece asked Julia if she was going to miss the house. Julia said, “I’ve always felt when I’m done with something, I just walk away from it–fin!” I have this same feeling as Julia. I have such an appreciation for my memories and how I’ve lived my life. From experience, I know things end; I don’t feel the need to dwell on their ending, but rather always celebrate their happening. As Julia said, “I will always have such wonderful memories of the [house];” I agree with her… I’ll always have the memories!
My thanks to Julia and Alex for a fun read… letting me share in some of those memories, and for giving me some examples and experiences for use in my life.
So, what is on my shirt today? Evan and I checked out, Cafe Indigo, a Vegan bakery in Concord, NH. We aren’t vegans, but we do try to eat healthy. Since we were going to the vegan cafe, I decided to wear the shirt I made for the launch of our organic shirts at Spreadshirt:
(and so is my shirt)
The shirt was a hit!
May 21st, 2007
For the past few months, we’ve been working on driver-based analysis and planning for our different business units at Spreadshirt. The effort reminded me of why so many businesses do not attempt such an analysis. The main reason: lies, damn lies, and statistics. What happens is that you start at the highest level. Like most retail businesses, for us, we can start with traffic, conversion and basket size for each of our business units. Kind of feels cold, huh?
The next step for the drivers is to get to what makes each business unit special to its customers. For us:
Shop Partner. Number of selling shop partners and sales per shop is where you head next. And, once you have that, you start thinking about the different levels of shop partners used to judge sales per shop. For example, major accounts, power sellers and then the “long tail” are typical classifications. Then, what about recruiting of those different partners? Lead generation and direct advertising can be broken into impressions, click through, registration, activation, and shop set-up. What about shop traffic and customer WOW (I believe in Net Promoter for this measure)?
For each of these, you then argue more critical drivers. And, we haven’t even gotten into regions, and their maturity, which has a big impact on the drivers.
The question is where do you stop? When do the numbers matter and when do they become details that are distracting? My experience… stay at 5-7 drivers. No lie. Pick 5-7 and stick to them. Period.
Team members can focus on levers that impact these drivers, but don’t let those levers become drivers themselves. Keep the team focused on the drivers for their business, which will help you focus on the business as a whole versus get stuck on one number.
Another recommendation… be careful not to let drivers be self-referencing. For example, we could define major accounts as accounts over a certain level. The problem with this is that you don’t know if an account is major until it becomes major. You want to be able to target leads as having “major” potential. We did this at QuickBase by defining major accounts as Fortune 500, with a special emphasis on Fortune 100, as an example. While not all Fortune 100 accounts turned major, the hit rate was higher than going after accounts with “potential”, than waiting and seeing if those became major to define them as major.
What are your thoughts and experiences with driver-based analysis and planning? When have you seen business drivers used well and when not?
What am I wearing on my shirt? To bring some levity to a serious post, I’m going to turn to one of my favorite mood lighteners, Yogi Berra.
Don’t make the wrong mistake
April 30th, 2007
I wasn’t going to post this because I’m spilling the beans on some gifts I bought, but I can’t resist! I im’d Peter to share in my fun, but he must be asleep or singing or something. So, I just did some Christmas shopping on Spreadshirt. I know, I’m a terrible leader for adding my orders into the last-minute rush, but wouldn’t it be worse for my family to not have t-shirts as presents?
Here’s a sampling of what I did:
- Mom, substituting in her retirement gets: A lovely soft yellow shirt with “A teacher affects eternity“ in metallic silver on the front with a rhinestone peace symbol on the back (she likes sparklies).
Dad, fisherman when he can gets: A chocolate (mmmmm) shirt with a black flock
fish on the front and the saying “Even a fish wouldn’t get into trouble if he kept his mouth shut
” in flock on the back.
- Lisa, my sister, gets: A chocolate (don’t shop while you are hungry) shirt with pink flock saying “Believe in the beauty of your dreams“. The believe is in Creampuff font and alone on a line.
- Jennifer, jr. high-aged niece, gets: A snuggly hoodie with “We must become the change we want. ~Ghandi” in silver on the front and a rhinestone peace symbol on the back.
- Caitlin, grade school-aged niece, gets: A black t with “Live the life you have imagined. ~Thoreau” and a red rhinestone heart on the front.
- Richard, uncle, gets: A navy polo with “I’m the decider. ~W” in the “logo” space, because I also get him a Bushisms calendar each year.
- Jane, aunt, gets: A chocolate (I really like chocolate) long sleeve t with pink flock that says “Practice diplomacy: Think twice, say nothing“. The “practice diplomacy” part is in Creampuff font. I like that font… and I’m still hungry!
That’s all I can tell you because some of the other folks might actually be reading this.
Hope these made you smile! I had a ball putting them together. Feel free to drop in your favorite quote or saying. I still have some more shopping to do! (Just FYI, Spreadshirt’s last day for holiday orders is the 18th for 2-day shipping and the 19th for 1-day.)
December 15th, 2006