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September 2010

AT&T Removes Chairs and Couches from Stores

A friend of mine went to get a new phone at AT&T.   He uses a cane.  Well his trip didn't last long because some genius figured out that if the customers were uncomfortable, they wouldn't stick around for long and therefore less staff was needed.  So they removed everything you could sit on.   Never mind that the staff has to stand all day too.

He went to a different store.

Good job!  If you can drive away all your customers, maybe you won't need any staff at all.  Think of all the money you will save.


Strategic Alliances: Doomed To Fail

“Alliances are not marriages.  They work until one party sees a prettier girl.”  These words, emanating from a female executive of a software company I met recently, say volumes about this company’s inability to develop partnerships, which, consequently, has negatively impacted their market share and revenue growth.  Furthermore, this executive stated that she was searching for a new head of alliances, as if this was the crux of their issue.  The problem isn’t personnel, it is attitude and perspective.

By merging the capabilities of two organizations, the results can be astonishing, including better, stronger and more differentiated products, the ability to pursue new markets, or the potential to increase market share in existing markets.  Ultimately the goal is to increase revenues and profitability.  And, all of these objectives can be achieved, but that can’t happen without the commitment of both participants.

Similar to the search for a mate, there is a considerable investment made by firms searching for partners, especially in two particular areas:  first, only through careful and thorough investigation can one find a good match; second, both of the partnering firms must devote time and resources to create a new product or service, and consequently develop new sales and marketing plans.  The critical point here is that both firms will have invested a considerable amount of time, effort and money in forging their relationship—enough that they won’t be easily tempted by the ‘pretty’ girl that happens to walk by.

Norman Vincent Peale authored The Power of Positive Thinking, and I can almost guarantee that the executive quoted above has not read it.  When you enter into a relationship with the expectation that your partnership can, so easily, fall apart, you set the wheels in motion for exactly that to happen.  It begins with the attitude you take into meetings, but spreads to what information you share or don’t share, how and when you share information, the activities you wholeheartedly undertake and those that you conveniently forget to complete, or the half-assed effort you put into any of these activities.  If a firm is less than fully committed, then it’s easy to see how a ‘prettier girl’ can catch a wandering eye.

Sometimes strategic alliances fail.  Like marriages, there could be a host of reasons for the breakup, including cheating.  It could also simply be that the two organizations are now moving in different directions.  Active communications during the relationship is absolutely paramount to ensuring success, but it also provides the vehicle to understand the status and strength of your relationship.  Shame on the company that relies on a ‘prettier girl’ to signal that your alliance is destined for divorce.

 Ryck Marciniak (Guest Blogger)


Privatizing Medicare

Mike Leavitt couldn't get it done under Bush, so he's trying again.  Here's what he says:

"in which cost-conscious seniors choose among competing insurance and delivery system options. That's how the new drug benefit works"

Yes indeed.  The drug benefit increases the deficit by $1 trillion dollars with the increased profits flowing to pharma.  So I guess Mike wants us taxpayers to send even more money to private insurance companies, because they deliver good healthcare so much better than the government.  

What?