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    Published on: March 29, 2016

    by Michael Sansolo

    All of us make mistakes; that’s just a fact of life.

    Where things get interesting is when those who work for us make mistakes and we react. The choices are many. We can use mistakes as a moment to teach about growth, trust and responsibility or we can fixate on the mistake itself and end up micro managing.

    Sadly, we all choose the wrong path far too often, which leads in turn to underlings who become increasingly aware of missteps, risk averse and demotivated. And it leads to managers who spend all their time watching someone else’s work. Talk about lose-lose.

    The notion of how to cope with mistakes got some primetime space during the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament and it’s a lesson many of us might need to take to heart.

    It starts with applauding for mistakes.

    Jim Larranaga, coach of the University of Miami basketball team, said he got a powerful lesson in positive coaching nearly 17 years ago, when he was at George Mason University. In a recent interview in the Washington Post, Larranaga said the notion of clapping for mistakes came courtesy of Bob Rotella, a noted sports psychologist.

    Like many of us, Larranaga was skeptical at first, saying, “What the heck do you mean by that.” But Rotella’s point is as relevant to a department manager as it is to a basketball coach and it focuses both on training and getting over mistakes.

    In sports, Rotella said, the teaching comes in practice. “Once the game begins you have to trust (your players.) If there’s a mistake, clap for them and let them put it out of their mind. You don’t want to dwell on mistakes.”

    Now think of that in your office, store, warehouse or wherever you work. To borrow Rotella’s point, training is paramount and should never be given short shrift. Associates in any job need to understand what is expected of them and need to tools to succeed. If fact, countless studies make it very clear that poor training or the lack or necessary tools are very often the prime reason staffers quit.

    Micro-managers are high on that list. too.

    To avoid micro managing we need to heed Rotella’s advice and stop dwelling on mistakes. Yes, they happen and associates need to understand what they have done wrong, especially if they are repeat offenders. But associates, like athletes, will dwell on the mistakes if that’s all the feedback they get, which will make them more tentative and less useful to the team.

    The basketball metaphor is obvious. While Larranaga might clap for mistakes, there’s no doubt he’ll quickly substitute for a player repeatedly making the same error. But while that player is on the court, he wants them focused on the next pass or shot, not the one they just messed up. That’s how the team moves on and hopefully wins.

    Stew Leonard Sr. used to say that the difference between a pat and the back and a kick in the pants is just a few inches, but the results they produce are amazingly different.

    Every mistake provides a teachable moment, the key question for managers is exactly what lesson are you giving?

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    by Kevin Coupe

    You may be familiar with the Ally Bank commercial in which grandparents welcome their grandchildren into their home, handing them a bunch of technological gadgets, saying, "So great to see you ... none of this works."

    The point is that grandchildren can serve as free tech support.

    I thought of that commercial this morning when I saw an Associated Press story about how Ron Johnson's new startup, Enjoy, which serves as an online concierge service for gadgets, "is expanding beyond San Francisco and New York City nearly a year after it was launched."

    You may remember Johnson - he was hailed as a retail visionary when he ran the Apple Stores, only to crash and burn when he took the CEO job at JC Penney, where his goal was to quickly get rid of most promotions and move to an everyday low price (EDLP) strategy. Consumers and shareholders got whiplash from the shift, and Johnson was fired ... and there was at least a little skepticism about this new venture.

    The AP story notes that Enjoy "allows customers to order high-end gadgets ranging from cameras and fitness trackers to drones ... and have them delivered for free by an expert who will show clients how to use the device. Visits last about an hour."

    Not only is Enjoy expanding its geographic reach to Los Angeles and Chicago, but also its client roster - it now includes Apple, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, AT&T, Jawbone and Garmin.

    While Johnson is coy about how much money has been spent on Enjoy and how many customers use the service, he does say that he's been surprised by the fact that many of the people who use it are younger than expected - often in their 20's and 30's, an age at which he figured they'd be tech-savvy enough to do their own installations. He also says that the slow rollout has been deliberate, that he learned an important lesson about moving too fast from his JC Penney experience.

    In the end, I think, this reflects what I believe is a broader truth about 21st century retailing, and something that I write about a lot here on MNB - that retailers have to be more than just a source of product, but also have to be a resource for information. Essentially, this means being willing to educate consumers to a greater degree than ever before ... and understanding that through the act of providing credible education and actionable information, marketers can create enduring relationships with their customers.

    I have no idea if Enjoy will succeed. But the basic logic behind its business model, I think, is an Eye-Opener.

    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    The Sioux Falls Business Journal has a story about Hy-Vee is opening what is described as "a state-of-the-art education and training center" in Urbandale, Iowa, that "will feature a teaching kitchen and lab area, an auditorium that can seat 150 people and collaboration areas with white boards and TV touchscreens. The teaching kitchen and lab area will be used by Hy-Vee’s cake and floral designers, as well as employees seeking cheese, wine and seafood certifications."

    The company says that the new 82,000 square foot facility, scheduled to open later this year, reflects a desire "to help grow our future store leaders" as well as its "dedication and investment in our employees.”

    In addition to serving as a Hy-Vee education center, the story says, the building also "will double as a fulfillment center for its popular Aisles Online grocery pickup and delivery program."
    KC's View:
    A lot of time and attention is paid to wages as a measure of how much a company invests in its employees. But just as important, I think, is a willingness by a company to educate staffers, help them grow their careers, nurture their ambitions, and help them feel fulfilled. Which sounds like what Hy-Vee, a company with already strong employee relationships, is doing here.

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    There's been a lot of controversy in North Carolina in recent days because of new statewide law that, as reported by BuzzFeed, "nullified local LGBT rights ordinances and restricted transgender people’s access to restrooms ... On March 23, Republican state legislators convened a one-day legislative session to pass House Bill 2 with the explicit goal of overriding an ordinance in Charlotte. The city ordinance would have protected LGBT people from discrimination in housing and public accommodations."

    Proponents of the bill, the story notes, "claimed the public accommodations portion of the Charlotte ordinance posed a safety threat by allowing transgender women — whom they called 'men' — to prey on women and girls, especially in bathrooms."

    The statewide bill is currently being challenged in the courts ... but Kroger has used one of its stores in Athens, Georgia, to illustrate how such attitudes can be addressed.

    That store offers a unisex bathroom that has the following sign on the door:

    "We have a UNISEX bathroom because sometimes gender specific toilets put others into uncomfortable situations. And since we have a lot of our friends coming to see us, we want to provide a place for our friends who are dads with daughters, moms with sons, parents with disabled children, those in the LGBTQ community, adults with aging parents who may be mentally or physically disabled. THANK YOU for helping us to provide a safe environment for EVERYONE."
    KC's View:
    There are three parts of this story that I think are most important.

    First, the use of the words "our friends." That's huge ... because it recognizes that Kroger isn't taking a clinical, dispassionate view here. In the best of circumstances, customers should be treated as friends ... even customers we don't necessarily understand or who are not like us.

    The other word that's important is "everyone." The best thing about Kroger's approach is how Kroger makes it not just about the LGBTQ community, but about everyone.

    I admire what Kroger is doing here.

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    The Chicago Tribune has an interview with US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in which he addresses the general subject of GMO labeling, and the specific subject of the US Senate's failure to pass legislation that would have mandated national, voluntary labeling of products containing GMOs.

    Among other things, Vilsack says that a national mandate is "the only way to deal with this. This has to be mandated. And I think frankly that food companies recognize that and that's why so many food companies have come out since the failure of the Senate bill to say, OK, fine, we're going to put a label on it to comport with Vermont law."

    You can read the entire interview here.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    Fast Company has a story about a new Los Angeles restaurant called Locol, which has been launched by two celebrity chefs, "Roy Choi, who kicked off the food-truck boom with Kogi BBQ Taco in 2008, and Daniel Patterson, whose San Francisco dining temple Coi has two Michelin stars."

    Locol is described as "a fast-food joint in a poor neighborhood with so few culinary options that it’s considered a food desert," and offering "very different fare from its combo-meal-slinging competitors: food made from fresh ingredients that still manages to be fast and affordable."

    According to the story, "The partners wanted to compete directly with chains like McDonald’s, but without turning to industrial food processing. They use inexpensive cuts of meat, incorporate lots of greens, and augment $4 burgers and sandwiches with fermented grains, which are low-cost and add bulk to the meat without sacrificing taste or texture. "We looked at the ways people all over the world feed themselves well and inexpensively," Patterson says. 'We use umami ingredients, flavors of fermentation, good acidity, and lots of herbs.' A typical meal at Lokol costs about $7."

    If the concept works, locations are planned for Oakland and San Francisco, with a national rollout possible. While the initial investment of $2 million to get the business up and running is seen as high, the belief is that it is important to bring "better food to underserved communities."
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    • The Orange County Register reports that grocery delivery service Instacart is expanding its service to California's Orange County, where it is partnering with eight retailers - Petco, Costco, Whole Foods Market, Gelson’s Market, Stater Bros., Ralphs, Smart & Final and H Mart.

    For the time being, the markets being served are "limited to Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and most of Irvine," the story says, noting that people who order from Costco do not need to be members if they use Instacart.

    The Register writes that "Instacart uses personal shoppers to deliver goods for a $5.99 fee ... Instacart Express members, who pay $149 a year, get free deliveries on orders valued at $35 or more."
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    Reuters reports that "A U.S. district court judge on Monday struck down a tax levied by Puerto Rico on retailer Wal-Mart Stores, dealing a blow to the debt-laden U.S. territory's efforts to shore up its finances. Implemented last year, the measure had increased the tax for on-island companies with more than $2.75 billion in revenues that buy goods from off-island "related parties" to 6.5 percent from 2 percent."

    Walmart argued that it was the only company that fit into these parameters, and sued.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    • The Wall Street Journal reports that "in its quest to grow ever-bigger chickens to meet growing demand for white meat, the food industry has hit an unexpected problem.

    "The trouble isn't raising large-enough birds. A growing share of broiler chickens - bred for meat, not to lay eggs - now can yield a pair of breast fillets that are heavier than an entire bird was a few decades ago. A rising number of those fillets are laced with hard fibers in a condition the industry calls woody breast. It poses no threat to human health, but it degrades the texture of the meat."

    One estimate is that as much as 10 percent of chickens worldwide may be afflicted with woody breast.
    KC's View:

    Published on: March 29, 2016

    ...will return.
    KC's View: