retail news in context, analysis with attitude

There has been some debate here over the past few days, much of which has surprised me, about the efficacy of a revitalization program developed by Jim Donald, the former CEO of Pathmark, Starbucks and Haggen, who is now CEO of the Extended Stay America hotel chain.

The program is called "DANCE," which stands for...

• Delighting guests through property refreshes and enhanced service.
• Activating associates and preventing slack.
• Neutralizing costs through cost-containment measures.
• Caring for the community of both guests and employees
• Expanding revenue.

The debate was ignited by MNB user Michael Schillo, who wrote, in part:

DANCE is dis-ingenious.  Another corporate acronym that is aimed to motivate the troops….when in all reality motivation comes from within.

Well, a number of folks who have worked for Jim Donald over the years leapt to his defense, praising his leadership and communications skills. Here's yet another one, from MNB user Bryan Nichols:

I remember early in my career volunteering to do a market visit with Jim on a Sunday.  By the time I got to work Monday morning, Jim had left a terrific letter on my desk thanking me for my help.  That’s the kind of active and positive leader he is.  In an industry where the leadership sometimes deserves criticism, Jim is the model for great leadership.

Which has led Michael Schillo to respond this morning:

You and others are missing the point. Jim Donald may be the greatest retailer ever, but acronyms are disingenuous.

They are created to motivate…when in reality they come across as fake.


In a lot of ways, I am sympathetic to Michael's position on this. I'm by nature a skeptical person, and in most cases I probably would be neither impressed nor wooed by an acronym. I'm just not that guy.

But...

I think that Michael misses an important point.

In this case, I suspect that the acronym does not seem fake to the people at Extend Stay America because the person who developed it doesn't have a fake or insincere bone in his body.

As I've often said here and elsewhere, I believe in the power of story. I believe that more businesses would benefit from using the power of narrative to explain their missions and motivate their people. In this case, "DANCE" isn't just an acronym - it is a word that tells a story, and that, as I said a few days ago, implies both action and joy.

That's why I disagree with Michael on this one. And I think in the end, that's why there's been such an outpouring of support for Jim in the face of his criticisms. he connects with people, in a visceral, authentic way.

And that, in itself, is a great story.




On another matter...

Yesterday, I got an email from an MNB user who said he was sending me a recipe for Brussels sprouts that he thought would overcome my utter distaste for the vegetable.

I thanked him for it, though I'm not sure I'm going to use it.

However ... what I did not do was post the recipe, which led to dozens of emails yesterday asking, and sometimes outright demanding, that I post the recipe.

So here it is...compliments of MNB user Mike Burrington...

Brussels Sprouts w/Pecans and Dried Cranberries

Ingredients:
1 pound fresh Brussels Sprouts, rinsed and trimmed
3 ounces coarsely chopped pecans
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 ounces coarsely chopped cranberries


Directions:

Slice the Brussels sprouts using the thinnest slicing disk of a food processor, or a knife or mandoline.

Set a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan over medium high heat and add the pecans. Cook, stirring continually, until the pecans darken in color and begin to give off a toasted aroma, approximately 2 minutes. Add the butter to the pan and stir to combine.

Once the butter has melted, add the Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring continually, until the color brightens and the sprouts are just tender, approximately 6 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat, add the cranberries, toss and serve.


I thank Mike for this, and hope everybody enjoys the recipe.

But there is no way I'm going to make this.

Because not only do I hate Brussels sprouts, but I also don't eat nuts, including pecans.

My loss.
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