Men only flights

June 19, 2017


United Had Men-Only Flights Until 1970. Here’s The Manly Services They Offered.

“These flights were operated by DC-6B aircraft and later Caravelles. Flights mostly operated at 5pm in each direction between the two cities(generally six days a week excluding Saturdays). They didn’t just ban women, but children also, and flight attendants catered to these business flights with special meals and offered complimentary cigars.

They offered ‘last minute message service’ (to make a call on behalf of the passenger back to the office) and the flights also had a teletype business news update with closing market prices. This was co-branded with the Wall Street Journal at one point. …

Likely apocryphal but there’s a story that United sent vouchers to the wives of passengers on these Executive flights, ‘A special invitation for wives whose husbands like to fly’ or something to that effect. They then surveyed those who redeemed the vouchers, and the most common response was ‘what flight?'”

Learn from United’s experience

June 19, 2017

By  via   Article

5 Things Your Business Should Learn From United’s Experience

“This entire incident could have been avoided with one thing: more empowered frontline employees. There were no takers at the $1,000 compensation offer, and the company’s policy ensured that the agent couldn’t make a higher offer. Not $1,001. Not $1,100. Not $1,500. Of course, today, $1,500 looks dirt cheap compared to the fallout from the incident. Which is why … announced that they were increasing the maximum compensation for involuntary ‘bumping’ to $10,000.

Most policies for customer service employees are made to protect the business from unnecessary costs. But it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that by giving your employees the power to make customers happy, you’re protecting the business from far, far worse.

At Ritz-Carlton Hotels, each employee is given a $2,000 budget to make any single guest happy. That budget is PER GUEST. How’s that for empowerment? Now, a $2,000 allowance to make things right for a guest sounds like a lot. And it is. Now, here’s the thing: that amount is very rarely used. But the freedom that a number so large signifies to the support team shows that the brand trusts them to make the right decision; and that the right decision is to do whatever it takes to make the guest happy.

‘We entrust every single Ritz-Carlton staff member, without approval from their general manager, to spend up to $2,000 on a guest. And that’s not per year. It’s per incident. When you say up to $2,000, suddenly somebody says, wow, this isn’t just about rebating a movie because your room was late, this is a really meaningful amount. It doesn’t get used much, but it displays a deep trust in our staff’s judgment. …

Significantly, there is no assumption that it’s because there is a problem. It could be that someone finds out it’s a guest’s birthday, and the next thing you know there’s champagne and cake in the room. A lot of the stuff that crosses my desk is not that they overcame a problem but that they used their $2,000 to create an outstanding experience.

There are stories about hiring a carpenter to build a shoe tree for a guest; a laundry manager who couldn’t get the stain out of a dress after trying twice flying up from Puerto Rico to New York to return the dress personally; or when in Dubai a waiter overheard a gentleman musing with his wife, who was in a wheelchair, that it was a shame he couldn’t get her down to the beach. The waiter told maintenance, who passed word, and the next afternoon there was a wooden walkway down the beach to a tent that was set up for them to have dinner in. …

– Simon Cooper, Former President of the Ritz-Carlton Company'”

Is this a circle?

June 19, 2017

Via   Article

Is This A Circle? What The Answer Reveals About You

“If pushed to choose, would you say this image contains a circle or not? People who tend towards saying the shape above is a circle are generally more liberal, a new study finds. People in the study who tended to say this was a circle were also: for the legalisation of cannabis, for gay marriage, for a government-funded welfare state.

Those who said the shape above was not a circle tended to be more politically conservative. Naturally, they were also more likely to be for strengthening drug laws and ‘small’ government.

For the study people were shown all sorts of geometric shapes, not just circles. Some of the shapes were perfect squares, circles or rectangles, some were not. The idea is to test how much people tolerate differences from the norm.

People who are more tolerant of the difference between the shape above and a circle are more likely to accept deviance in society and in others. Those who are stricter about geometry are also stricter about other people.”

Disdain for “management”

June 19, 2017

Management by Peter F. Drucker, Foreword by Jim Collins: Peter Drucker’s Legacy …  Article

“During a discussion in graduate school, a professor challenged my first-year class: managers and leaders—are they different? The conversation unfolded something like this:

‘Leaders set the vision; managers just figure out how to get there,’ said one student.

‘Leaders inspire and motivate, whereas managers keep things organized,’ said another.

‘Leaders elevate people to the highest values. Managers manage the details.’

The discussion revealed an underlying worship of ‘leadership’ and a disdain for ‘management.’ Leaders are inspired. Leaders are large. Leaders are the kids with black leather jackets, sunglasses and sheer unadulterated cool. Managers, well, they’re the somewhat nerdy kids, decidedly less interesting, lacking charisma. And of course, we all wanted to be leaders, and leave the drudgery of management to others.

We could not have been more misguided and juvenile in our thinking. As Peter Drucker shows right here, in these pages, the very best leaders are first and foremost effective managers. Those who seek to lead but fail to manage will become either irrelevant or dangerous, not only to their organizations, but to society.

Business and social entrepreneur Bob Buford once observed that Drucker contributed as much to the triumph of free society as any other individual. I agree. For free society to function we must have high-performing, self-governed institutions in every sector, not just in business, but equally in the social sectors. Without that, as Drucker himself pointed out, the only workable alternative is totalitarian tyranny. Strong institutions, in turn, depend directly on excellent management, and no individual had a greater impact on the practice of management and no single book captures its essence better than his seminal text, Management.”

The bingo method

June 12, 2017

By Seth Godin via   Article

“You might need help to turn an idea into a project.

Most of the time, though, project developers walk up to those that might help and say, “I have a glimmer of an idea, will you help me?”

The challenge: It’s too challenging. Open-ended. To offer to help means to take on too much. And of course people are hesitant to sign on for an unlimited obligation to help with something that’s important to you, not to them.

Consider the bingo method instead.

Build a 5 x 5 grid. 25 squares. Twenty-five elements that have to be present for your project to have a chance. If it’s a fundraising concert, one of the grids might be, “find a theater that will host us for less than $1,000.”

Here’s the key: Fill in most of the grids before you ask someone for generous help. When nine or twelve of the squares are marked, “done,” and when another six are marked, “in process,” then the ask is a lot smaller.

A glimpse at your bingo card indicates that you understand the problem, that you’ve highlighted the difficult parts and that you’ve found the resources and the knowledge necessary to complete most of it.

You’ve just asked a much easier question.”

How to piss away $4 million

June 12, 2017

By Dan Markovitz via   Article

“… the steps taken by the president of a corrugated box manufacturer to reduce raw material costs. Despite spending $3.5 million on new equipment and $500,000 on training, costs actually went up by about 3%. … you can imagine that the decision to spend $4 million was made safely inside the confines of the executive conference room.

Two years later, the president tried to improve the situation again, this time by developing a clearly defined and agreed-upon problem statement addressing the high raw material losses.

Hats off to the president for taking the time to develop a problem statement. However, the real breakthrough came when he left his offices and went to the gemba to actually see what was going on:

He quickly observed numerous problems. The paper was often too wide, resulting in extra losses from cutting. In addition, paper rolls were often damaged by the forklifts that moved them, and various machines were not properly calibrated.

Perhaps most notably, Mike observed that the main corrugator machine stopped at 11:30 a.m. Assuming it was an unplanned outage, Mike rushed to the machine only to learn that the machine was stopped every day at lunch. Stopping and restarting the machine at lunchtime not only decreased productivity but also increased the probability of both damage to paper and mechanical problems. Interestingly, the lunch break turned out to be a response that had been instituted years ago in response to instability in the electric power provided by the local utility—a problem that had been fixed long ago. 

With first-hand exposure to the problem, it was relatively trivial to institute countermeasures that cut paper losses by 7%, generating $50,000 in savings in the first two months alone. The president commented that

it took this process to… actually go see and talk with our operators to understand what was going on. Funny thing is, they already knew what the problem was, we just weren’t listening.

…. Speaking from my own experience at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, we were never taught the necessity of going to the gemba and seeing the work done for ourselves. The science of management was (and I believe still is) taught as some kind of rarified intellectual exercise conducted from within the executive suite.

Taiichi Ohno said, ‘Data is of course important, but I place the greatest emphasis on facts.’ And of course the only way to get those facts is to see firsthand what’s happening.”

Silicon Valley is manipulating us

June 12, 2017

By Adam Lashinsky via   Article

“The world is waking up to the fact that Silicon Valley is manipulating us. The world isn’t happy.

The New York Times spilled a considerable amount of what used to be called ink on a fascinating expose of the tricks Uber plays on its drivers, for example. The venerable television news magazine 60 Minutes devoted its lead segment recently to a cogent explanation of how tech companies like Facebook and Snap Inc. prey on the emotions of their users to make them linger longer on their respective products.

As entrepreneur Sunil Rajaraman noted the other day on The Bold Italic, this is nothing new. Tech companies and other researchers have been working at this manipulation game for years. Of course, it’s even less new than he thinks. Anyone who watched the badly missed TV series Mad Men knows that tricky ad men (and a few women) didn’t need any fancy software to manipulate consumers into buying what their clients were selling.

Still, as Rajaraman declared in a piece titled ‘We are all part of one gigantic A/B test,’ things are getting worse. ‘You should assume that almost every tech company you love is experimenting on you right this second,’ he writes. What’s more, the companies are under a great deal of pressure to do this in order to rise above the crowd. ‘When you are building a new product, you need to make it as addictive as possible to gain traction,’ says Rajaraman. ‘Engagement, especially in the early stages, is one of the top metrics venture capitalists consider when putting money into a new product. If you can’t retain customers, you effectively don’t have a company.’

What’s problematic about all this is that ‘engagement’ isn’t always ethical, and few tech companies will pause long enough to consider the ethics of their product. That’s due in part to their lack of training in the traditional disciplines of the humanities, an oft-disparaged field in the hard data world of techdom. Design firm chief Gadi Amit thinks the void is so severe that ‘no one is pricing the societal impact into the valuation of any startup,’ as he writes in a commentary for Fortune.

Have an ethical day, and while you’re at it, hug a history major.”