Best Buy Corporate Headquarters Visit

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I was at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters today in Minneapolis, MN for the CMMA Professional Development Conference.  The agenda for the events today were as follows:

  • Keynote Dialogue: Video Fueling Culture.  Brad Anderson, Vice-Chairman and CEO, Best Buy
  • Fueling Communications Culture Topic & Discussion #1: Advocating for the Audience (Best Buy’s TAG TV Team)
  • Fueling Communications Culture Topic & Discussion #2: Listening to Employees (Best Buy’s Employee Communication Team)
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Brad Anderston - Vice Chairman/CEO

Best Buy CEO

Brian Dunn - President/COO

Presentation #1:
Keynote Dialogue: Video Fueling Culture.  Brad Anderson (Vice-Chairman and CEO) and Brian Dunn – (President/COO), Best Buy

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  • Best Buy did a video series where they asked customers who walked out of the store why they were leaving the store without merchandise.  They were able to get lots of insight into why they were missing out on potential sales.
  • In our old days “we sold products to customers instead of solutions for customers”
  • Best Buy’s China operations: one of the first two Best Buy China employees hired was named Arial.  The reason she was hired was in her interview she was asked why she wanted to work for Best Buy.  She held up her hand and said to the CEO:  “Mr. Anderson do you see this (pointing to her lifeline within the palm of her hand)?”  She continued saying “in that time I want to help change China.”
  • “We want to be the kind of place that attracts people who have big dreams” (Brad Anderson)
  • An audience member asked “what are your customers telling you where you need to be 5 years from now?”  Brad Anderson answered by saying “people feel like they are slaves of their devices.  People engineering their devices engineer them to fit their needs instead of consumers needs.  It isn’t a good excuse because of scale any more.  Best Buy will be successful if we can enrich people’s lives by solving that complexity for the customer”.
  • People want to be able to do business with companies they can trust.  How do you get to a place where you are transparent so people can trust you?
  • They do spots where employees tell the stories of customers they have affected
  • Communications is the conscious of the organization and they were never accepted and they were a little dangerous in that they let a story go out that challenges a premise of a company.  Talked about a book called the naked corporation.
  • The leaders that have a tough time with it end up being the butt of the jokes.
  • Sending DVDs to the stores of “Tag TV”
  • Not actively measuring video effectiveness but when employees pull a corporate video that was pushed it is a sign of something that is working

What is the story of Best Buy now and how does it end?

  • The center of Best Buy is its employees.
  • Things that don’t have a reason to exist tend not to
  • Organizations as large as Best Buy can’t grow without communications and technology that support those communications
Listening to Employees
Jennifer Rock – Director Employee Communications
Barry Johnson – Director Employee Communications
  • Best Buy reduced employee discounts to save the company money and created “The Water Cooler” which is a forum for employees (54 pages of feedback).  The Executives went back and changed their minds about reducing the employee discount after 5 days.
  • Sent out an IOC saying “We heard you” and we made a mistake on this one and we want to hear more.
  • Four types of dialog (note: the more complex the change the more active you need the dialog to be)
    • Measurement – “Rate This”
      • Survey
      • Annual Audit
      • Poll
    • Download with Feedback loop – “Get, then tell”
      • Meeting w/ Q&A
      • Post event survey
      • Suggestion box
      • Survey
      • News w/email
    • Communicate & Discuss – “You jump in”
      • Town Hall
      • The Chair
      • Discussion Boards
      • Social Network
      • Learning Session
      • News w/comments
    • Listen, plan, target, discuss – “Give insights, drive strategy”
      • The Chair
      • Group Summit
      • Survey
      • Discussion Boards
      • Virtual Town Hall
      • Poll
      • Focus Group
  • Perform a Yearly Communications Audit
    • Measure how important each attribute it is to you and how well you are doing in each attribute
    • Strategies & Values
    • Managers as Communicators
    • Tactical Info
  • The Chair is a 1:1 feedback mechanism where there are 2 chairs in a busy traffic area with an easil with a sign asking for someone that walks by to sit down and talk.
  • They have “If you were COO for the day” where employees can say what they would do if they ran the company.
  • Have an Employee News site
    • Used to convey tactical information to more strategic communications
    • “Why Do I have to Change my “#@&$#*$(” Password? is the example they used
    • Can rate every comment up or down
    • No comments are anonymous except one which dealt with health care.  They originally had the ability to make each anonymous but the community told them they wanted it turned off so they listened.
  • Water Cooler
    • is the online discussion board tool at Best Buy and the number one way they listen to employees within the walls of Best Buy.  Not pretty, highly functional, uses open source tools.
      • Main categories
        • My Company
        • My Location
        • My Department
        • My Groups
      • 233 visitors in the last hour to the site when she took the screenshot
      • 1,130,574 posts to date and 64,537 topics
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Best Buy Corporate Campus Videos