Monthly Archives: March 2010

The Ten Plagues of Business

A Seder table setting

As you might have noticed, I took a day off from writing yesterday in honor of Passover. As we’ve discussed before, I really enjoy this holiday for a number of reasons. This year, I’ve been thinking in particular about a portion of the Seder that deals with the last straw. Yep – the plagues sent to convince Pharaoh to “let my people go”. You can almost hear Tony Soprano delivering the lines – “you don’t wanna know what’s gonna happen, capisce?  Be that as it may, the plagues got me thinking about some of the things that we inflict upon ourselves and our businesses. Continue reading

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Killer Kat

Have you heard about what’s going on with Nestle and Greenpeace? Interesting article this morning about it and I don’t exactly know where I come out on this. Maybe you can help!
The folks at Greenpeace have targeted Nestle over the company‘s use of palm oil in the Kit Kat bar because of

Nestlé’s purchases of palm-oil from an Indonesian company that Greenpeace International says has cleared rain forest to establish palm plantations.

Nestlé says it had already decided to stop dealing with the firm, which supplied just 1.25% of the palm oil Nestlé used last year. It says it bought only a tiny fraction of the firm’s output, so any impact was negligible, and that it is working toward buying only environmentally sustainable palm oil.

OK, so how much is too much, right?  Apparently, the Greenpeace folks think any is too much.  But that’s not what intrigues me here.  This is:

The difficulty with social media, says Ms. Backes, is “to show that we are listening, which we obviously are, while not getting involved in a shouting match.”

She’s a Nestle spokesperson and she’s reacting to the fact that Nestle’s Facebook and Twitter outposts are being inundated with protesters.  The company is trying to respond responsibly via social media but is getting shouted down. Of course, your instinct is to take down the bad comments or prevent additional posts but that changes the nature of the conversation, making it a monologue.  On the other hand, if the protesters are totally wrong and are overwhelming Nestle’s ability to correct each incorrect post, what should they do?

I don’t have an answer.  It’s easy when it’s a handful of disgruntled consumers but what if it’s thousand of organized protesters who aren’t letting the facts get in the way of their story?

What would you do in Nestle’s shoes?

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Filed under digital media, Reality checks


As usual, we have a food theme here on a Friday. Specifically, it’s about something that I hope catches on here as it did in England, and that’s Jamie Oliver’s campaign to get us all eating better. As he says on his website:

Jamie’s challenge was to see if he can get a whole community cooking again. He worked with the school lunch ladies and local families to get everyone back in the kitchen and making tasty meals with fresh ingredients – no packets, no cheating. He’s started a Food Revolution: to get people all over America to reconnect with their food and change the way they eat.

Here’s the problem with that, and it’s a good lesson for business as well. Continue reading

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The Ocean

Ocean Road

There is an old Italian proverb that I don’t expect you’ve heard although you’ve probably experienced.  It goes like this:

“Tra il dire e il fare, c’è di mezzo il mare.”

For those of you who don’t speak the language, roughly translated it means “between saying and doing lies half the ocean” and like many old proverbs, this one has endured because it’s spot on.  There are lots of great ideas that have amounted to nothing because of the ocean, that vast space between saying and doing.  We need to navigate those waters or drown. Continue reading

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Filed under Consulting, Thinking Aloud

What’s Your Story?

I think we all know the joke.  A wife walks in on a husband while he’s bumping uglies with another woman.  There are a lot of variations to the joke, but the punch line is “who are you going to believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”

To me, this goes to another phrase that lots of folks use on a regular basis.  Lots of children too although not explicitly.  That phrase is immortalized in the chorus of a Jimmy Buffet song: Continue reading

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Back At It

A golf ball directly before the hole

I finally played golf this weekend. If you’ve been following my tweets or taken note of the snide side comments in this space, you know I’ve not been happy about the layoff.  In fact, the 90+ days of enforced time off (a layer of snow really does inhibit one’s ability to find a white golf ball as well as reduce how far that ball travels) did have a side benefit, one which I think might apply in some ways to business as well. Continue reading

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Filed under Helpful Hints, Reality checks

The Menu

Strange things on the menu here

Our Foodie Friday post this week is about the menu.  I don’t know about you, but I always look forward to seeing the menu when we dine out since it tells me a lot about the chef as well as his staff.  Are the dishes pretty much what you’d expect or do they demonstrate thought about available ingredients and take the diner into new territory?  Is this the same old tired interpretations you’d expect or something new?

Mostly what I like about the menu is that it’s about possibilities.  But it’s also about choices.  You have to make up your mind about how many dishes, the mix of big plates and small, are you sharing with anyone else, etc.  In short, it’s a great business lesson. Continue reading

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Filed under food, Helpful Hints