Uplifting Service – Book Review

In this book, Ron Kaufman lays out the steps you can take to build a sustainable culture that delivers outstanding service every day. He offers the tools and practices that have been proven effective in businesses, governments, communities, and homes. Through perspective-changing insights and case studies, you will learn how the world’s best performing companies have changed the game through service – and how you too can follow this proven path to an uplifting transformation. (from the book jacket back flap)

I saw the author at a business event called “Growth Summit“, where he was one of the main speakers. His session took all morning, so he was able to really drill down into his views on service culture. He spoke at length about the challenges of building a service culture at the Singapore airport, and how a proper service culture runs through the entire organization, not just the customer service department. Normally I don’t really enjoy ‘high-energy’ speakers that run around the stage and try to engage the audience, but this guy really spoke to me for some reason. It made total sense to me that a service oriented attitude will elevate the entire organization. It’s been a while since the event and since I’ve read the book, but I thought it could be helpful if you are thinking about improving your service culture.

The book takes you step by step through the process that Mr. Kaufman has designed. It starts by a bit of soul searching WHY you want to change the culture, and how to take the LEAD from all levels of the organization. It describes how to do a proper inventory of your business processes to BUILD a proper service language and vision for the company. Finally it describes to have a predictably high service level it takes effort to LEARN what makes your organization work and to DRIVE a continuous search for ever increasing service level.

The part that I always remember is what he calls the 6 levels of service. The video that I linked above is the first in a series, and he talks about the 6 levels of service in part 3, and it continues in part 4. Pay close attention to how service levels go down when you don’t work at keeping them up; what is unbelievable service today will be basic in the near future, as he explains in part 5.

Uplifting Service is another one of those books that can really inspire you to take action, but to really make an impact, you really need to bring in a consultant to help you through the process. I made a similar comment on my review of Scaling Up. Maybe there’s a pattern with these books that I’ve picked up at the Growth Summit :).

Service is a mindset, and it is a two way street. You give good service, you get good customers. Reading this book has helped me recognize organizations that do or don’t have it. Building a service culture takes a lot of effort, especially at a larger scale. This book may not have given me all the tools that I need, but it definitely helped me understand what it takes.

Scaling Up – Book Review

If your management is overwhelmed by all the ‘stuff’ that needs to be taken care of, and you want to focus on a few select things that matter most, this book can help you figure out what to focus on first, and how to prioritize the organizing principles in your organization. It takes a LOT of energy and an executive team that is 100% committed to implement though, so make sure that this is the right fit for your organization.

The author, Verne Harnish, runs a consulting company called Gazelles. This company focuses on ‘executive education’, and offers consulting services for growing companies. The book ‘Scaling Up‘ is the companion to Gazelle’s flagship corporate program, which helps owners and CEO’s navigate the growth of their businesses. A Gazelles coach will come in and guide the company to properly organize the pieces, using the book and some other tools, to get that job done. You could certainly just read the book and draw inspiration from it, but the real value comes from the advise you get from the coach.

Scaling Up distills a successful business into four major decision areas: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash. For each of these decision areas, the book describes what they mean, why they are important, and what you can do to optimize each area. The theory is that if you get all four of these areas right, then success will be yours.

The book hits all the major self-evident aspects of modern business (the right people in the right place, everyone is accountable, focus on your niche, don’t get distracted, implement measurable KPI’s, etcetera). What I like about it is that it is structured well; it is very easy to follow but there is a lot of depth in each element of the program.

You can tell that the book is written with extensive experience behind it, but you do need the experience and knowledge of a coach to really understand what is behind the book. As a standalone book you might get a lot of inspiration for structuring your organization, but I don’t think it goes deep enough to really have a lot of value.

I also wanted to mention that Gazelles also organizes a number of events where a bunch of speakers, who all write books in the corporate world, come out and try to capture your imagination, buy their book and hopefully hire them to come help you implement what they write about. I’ve attended the ‘Growth Summit’ once, and I was impressed with the line-up of the speakers, and I was thoroughly inspired to take real action. For all you CEO’s out there – if you could use some inspiration, or if you want to do some real bonding with your executive team, I can definitely recommend attending one of the Gazelles events.

 

Been a While

It has been years since I last wrote, way back in 2012 to be exact, when I was writing for a former employer. When I left that job, I got caught up in my new work, and writing was no longer a priority for me, or I should say my work had me so busy that I just did not have any energy to write. A lot has happened since then – just to name a couple: we moved across the country to Flagstaff, Arizona; our kids both moved out and they are both in college. My current job has taken me back into the technical side of my work, and I’ve discovered that I have fallen well behind on current technologies. As I am catching up, I am the beneficiary of many people’s blogs and forum posts, and this is inspiring me to start writing again and share this knowledge.

To get this started, I re-published the most interesting articles that I’ve written for my former employer. These were all added December 22, 2015, and the original publish date are at the bottom of the article.

I am in the middle of re-working this website, so there will be some changes. The plan is to start with a focus mainly on Microsoft Dynamics NAV, and I will expand into anything that I think is worth sharing. I’ll share articles that speak to me, like for instance this one by Bill Gates about his favorite books in 2015. I’ll share my thoughts about books, which can be newly discovered classics like Stephen Covey’s book about highly effective people, or more recent ones like Andrew Davis’s book ‘Brandscaping’. I saw Andrew at a business event last year, and he is a great speaker too.

Then there is the ever expanding list of things to figure out, such as how to make Windows shortcut keys work in VMWare Fusion on a MacBook, how to stop underscores to auto-format to italics (drove me absolutely crazy!), or where to find the Powershell ISE in Windows 8. Some of these things are surprisingly hard to figure out (for me at least), so hopefully sharing them will help some folks.

The goal is to make this website a body of knowledge of all the things that I pick up along the way. Hopefully it will be of some benefit for you, the reader, and if not then at least I can search this one site for stuff that I’ve collected. Enjoy the read and let me know what you think. Have a great day!