Monday, February 27, 2006

About eating alone on a businesstrip

Ireland - Birr. Nightly visit of a printplant. Wanted to eat in a typical Irisch pub, but they don't serve food after 8PM in a small village like Birr. Ended up in the uptight restaurant of the only hotel in town. Don't like eating alone in restaurants. At least in a pub or brasserie you see some movement.

Tell me how you spend your meals as a manager alone on the road.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

The Hawthorne Effect - 3 things to learn

The truth about being good to people

Between 1924 and 1927 a scientist, Elton Mayo, conducted experiments at the Western Electric Hawthorne Works in Chicago on the effect of light on productivity. The experiments showed no clear connection between productivity and the amount of light at the workplace. However Mayo wondered what kind of changes at the workplace would indeed influence the production.
In further studies at the Hawthorne factory between 1927 and 1932 he found out an amazing thing! Basically he found out that workers acted according to sentiments and emotion! He said that if management would treat the employees with respect and give them the attention at the workplace they needed, then the workers would be willing to work harder for the employer.

The Hawthorne Effect = the more you show interest in people, the more you show you are concerned, the better the job performance of the employees.

An interesting side-effect of this theory is the duality with the concept of 'training'. Training educates employees, but the mere act of gaining more knowledge doesn't necessarily mean that the employee will be motivated to perform better. An employee will be motivated to perform better because he feels supported by his management. Because they take care of his training, by paying for it, by organizing it. The motivation is independent of the knowledge an employee may have gained from training. That also is the Hawthorne Effect.
It is said that at least 50 % of a successful training should be attributed to the Hawthorne Effect.

What can we learn here?
1. The need for recognition, security and sense of belonging is more important for the employees' morale and productivity, than the physical working place conditions.
2. An employee is somebody whose attitudes and effectiveness are conditioned by social demands from both inside and outside the working place.
3. 'Somebody Upstairs Cares' syndrome: as a manager, show the people you care, and act upon it (it is not enough to just be nice to employees)

Elton Mayo (1880-1949)
The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization (1933)
The Social Problems of an Industrial Civilization (1945)
The Political Problems of an Industrial Civilization (1947)

Airport Communication 3 - Dublin

All about Visualization.
Dublin. A red light indicating how many seconds pedestrians have to wait before they can cross. First time I saw this. Kind of smart. It prevents people of walking through the red light.

Airport Communication 2 - London, Heathrow

On your way to Dublin:
The white sign under the yellow gates-sign reads:

"There are no shopping or smoking areas beyond this point."

Brilliant communication. It is the answer to the question everybody is silently asking himself.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Airport Communication 1 - Brussels, Zaventem

When picking up your luggage at Zaventem, the national airport of Belgium, you will notice a new screen informing passengers about the correct- and on-time delivery of the luggage during the former month. This is smart! It says something about the field operations at the airport. It also shows that at least 'somebody' cares about the delivery of our valuables, otherwise they wouldn't bother sharing their results with us.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Zurich, Switzerland, the invasion of Starbucks

Starbucks, cofffeeshop and lifestyle center.
After having conquered the VS, Starbucks is moving into Europe. They opened two outlets in the old center of Zurich. I like them for the fact they seem to understand what moves a young intelligent crowd. Every Starbucks has a little 'lounge' where you will find students or young proffessionals with a laptop or a book. I noticed a big difference between the Starbucks in Princeton, US I know so well and the outlets in Zurich. In Zurich they are serving coffee in beautifull big stone cups, whereas in the VS they only serve coffee in cardboard cups. This means they are adapting their concept to the European lifestyle.
The arrogance of Belgian cafe's and coffeeshops will lead to their defeat. They are not differentiating their ' coffee-products'. They are still serving coffee the old style. A cafe owner I know claims Europeans will never fall for cardboard cups and latte machiato's. He is so wrong.