Category: Business

Google: Secrets of a Nimble Giant

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The Guardian has an interesting article about Google and how they stay innovative.  Below are some interesting things from the article I liked:

  • “It was Rupert Murdoch who summed up success in the digital age when he said: “Big will not beat small any more – it will be the fast beating the slow.” That might be inspiring for startups, but in the process-laden, corporate environment, how can big companies keep their edge by moving quickly and lightly?
  • Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, thinks size should help. “It’s important for people to realise that you should benefit from the scale – if you’re not benefiting then you’re doing something wrong, and might as well break up into lots of little things.
  • We have been gradually embracing the idea that once you’re successful, we give you much more latitude, says Brin. Somebody who has a success under their belt has really demonstrated accomplishment and in that case we will give them generally more liberty. When they came and proposed this idea they said, ‘We want to do something new and revolutionary, but we’re not even going to tell you what it is. And we want to go back to Australia, hire a bunch of people and just work on it.’ That was a crazy proposal,” Brin says, and not one many businesses would have supported.  But, having seen their success with Maps, I felt that it actually was pretty reasonable.” It was two years ago that Brin agreed to support the project, and the full version of Wave will be released later this year.
  • The most well-known Google initiative for encouraging innovation in-house is its “20% time” strategy, which has almost become an innovation cliché. The idea that 80% of an engineer’s time is spent on the day job and 20% pursuing a personal project is a mathematician’s solution to innovation, Brin says.
  • In-house, Google uses a project database and an ideas mailing list to manage new projects. While noting ideas on the mailing list is important, it is less significant than the project database, says Brin, which lists weekly updates on who is working on what, their goals, progress and links to documentation. That distinction has to be instilled in the company culture.”

Layoffs

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Interesting quote from the May edition of Inc. Magazine from Jack Stack the CEO of Springfield Remanufacturing.  He said “A layoff is a failure of management but the people who usually pay for that failure are not the ones responsible for it”.  Does anyone want to touch that one?

Target Corporate Headquarters Tour

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Visited the Target Corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, MN.

Stromberg Consulting Presentation

  • Target and Best Buy are using Stromberg Consulting to help with their branding strategy
  • Brand + Reputation + Perception = Today’s Reality
  • Employees, customers, and stakeholders are all seeking much more transparency in the relationships that they have with companies.
  • Branding
    • Good brand = promise
    • Great brand = promise kept
  • From the moment we are born we are all in networks.    Some of us even find love through our networks.   Stories travel the world in minutes through our networks.    People play different roles in networks.    Using networks to change our professional lives.
  • Referred to Tipping Point book
  • Find out who the hubs of information are in an organization…who are people going to in order to get answers?
  • Asked employees what channels they find most effective to receive communications which ended up being email, managers, and employee toolkit (portal).
    • They then did a cost analysis of each communication channel
  • Drivers of Engagement
    • Team connections
    • Senior Leadership
    • Quality of work
    • Growth and Opportunity
    • External reputation
    • Assesses “a day in the life” of someone and understands hour by hour what spends a day getting fully immersed with the employees.

    Leadership Visibility

    • Has your CEO directly addressed how you’re tackling the economic environment?
    • Have you increased leader visibility in the face of uncertain times?
    • Have you considered a “back to the floor” program?
    • Is there a mechanism for two-way dialog with senior leaders?
    • Have you considered setting leaders specific communication targets?
    • Employees are more apt to form/join a union if the relationship with their manager is failing.
    • Measuring seat time vs. productivity (social media)

    Mike Brown – Director, Marketing Planning at Target

    • Target is a “destination for trend setters”
    • Values mounted on the wall in the highest traffic area of the headquarters
    • To be the best company ever for our guests, team members, and shareholders
    • Want their team members to know the vision, then act on it
    • Want their employees to be fast, fun, & friendly
    • Want to find a leader in everyone
    • Speed is life (we want to know what our guests want before they do)
    • Advance our reputation
    • Recognition
      • Great team cards (peer to peer cards)
      • Use real estate (art work and digital signage) to remind them of the brand throughout the campus
      • Bullseye boutique (employee store)
      • Doing a dog (Bullseye) dress up contest for employees for their plush dogs
    • Able to attract most affluent and highest educated customers
    • Target has planograms for Store Manager’s offices so if a Store Manager leaves the next Store Manager can jump in and find things
    • They call their employees “team members”
    • They call their customers “guests”
    • Word of Mouth Marketing Organization (educates employees about social media guidelines)

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