Monday, July 19, 2010

Hard. Easy. What's the difference?

You ever watch one of those modeling shows and snicker to yourself when the model says: "Everyone thinks modeling is easy, but it is soooo hard!"? I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I'm beginning to think they're right. Imprecise, but right.

Several months ago, a colleague of mine said. "Sales is the hardest job. Convincing someone to part with money is the hardest thing to do in professional services." It is my belief that this is wrong. It is my belief that, for the most part, no one job is harder than any other or more important than any other. It is my belief that the job itself isn't hard, it's being great at your job that is the hard thing.

Doing a job well enough to "make it to the top" of any field is extremely hard given that "making it to the top" basically means finding a way to push your performance and abilities to a point where you can be better than more than 90-95% (and sometimes more in highly visible fields or fields where people's lives are on the line) of the rest of the population.

Being a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist isn't hard at all. It's being a good one that's hard. It's fairly easy to do a poor job at almost any discipline.

Professional services can basically be broken down into 3 components - sell the work, do the work, support the work. Some people like to articulate a narrative where one component is THE critical ingredient or one job is harder than the others. I'm just not buying it. I'm a big fan of the "three legged stool" model for professional services. Take one leg off and it's just a hunk of wood that is of very little use to anyone.

If you can't sell the work - nobody gets paid.
If you can't do the work - nobody gets paid.
If you can't support the work - nobody gets paid.

It's as simple as that.


Elevation of disciplines or jobs at the expense of others - Garbage.

Looking through the lens of system dynamics where all parts are necessary but not sufficient - Like it.

"I'm normally not a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me Superman." - Homer Simpson

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

If I were CXO of Disney

Still playing with my new experiment. This is number 3!

If I were CXO of Disney I would:
  1. Make grand gestures - I would immediately remind each and every member of the Disney team of the overall vision imparted by Walt and remind them to think and act as Walt would want them to. Establishing the necessary framework for a commander's intent model is only half of the equation. The other half is to show the level of commitment that leadership is making to achieve Walt's vision in order to remove the fear of consequences of "mistakes". I would look throughout the company to find highly visible ways to reinforce the desired cultural behavior and make several grand gestures to walk the walk. The first on my list - dramatically expand the monorail system at Walt Disney World. WDW is supposed to represent the mix of fantasy, adventure and hope for the future. I never knew Walt personally, and I do understand that transportation memes change, but I'm pretty sure that the current hodge-podge patchwork of buses and monorails & shuttles is not what Walt had in mind.
  2. Focus on story telling - Story telling is the heart of everything that is Disney from movies and TV to the park. In past years, Disney seemed to forget this and now with the Pixar acquisition, it seems this has improved but I would work to find ways to spread the concept further into other areas of the business (e.g., Disney TV, the Parks, etc) noting that Disney is at its very best when it is telling great stories. Story telling is not an abstract concept reserved for media communications. Epcot told a story. Space Mountain told a story. The original contemporary hotel at WDW told a story. I would find ways to bring that spirit back.
  3. Bring excellence to the employee experience - Great companies know that while brands are envisioned from the outside in, great brands are built from the inside out. Good employee experience drives good customer experience drives shareholder value. Showing the cast & crew that Disney is a magical place to work will drive the passion that will make Disney magical to interact with.
  4. Make Disney TV parent friendly - The sheer amount of shows that paint parents as mentally challenged is egregious. Disney is on the edge of losing its reputation of wholesomeness. I'm not saying return to the 1950's style Mickey Mouse Club, I'm saying that shows on Disney TV should not consistently make parents out to be clueless buffoons out of touch with the lives of their children.

#3 (of my experiment) - getting harder to keep up the frequency, but I still like it.

Losing the essence of greatness - garbage