Tag Archives: tom peters

management by wandering around, revisited.

“You are out of tune with the times if you are in the office more than one-third of the time.” — Tom Peters, “Thriving on Chaos”

One could wonder if Peters’ 1987 quote no longer applies now that we can connect with the world via email, social media and countless new channels without leaving our offices. I would argue his point is more valid than ever.

I’m bad at this. I spend way too much time in front of my computer in my office. There was a running gag where our web/new media coordinator, who reports to me, and I would say “good morning” to each other face-to-face for the first time in the afternoon. But this is marginal management on my part, so I’ve made a point to try to check in with her early in the day, every day.

Moreover, working on a college campus, it’s really hard to get a picture for what’s happening from the island of our offices. Getting out and around helps immensely.

Peters had a term for this: Management by wandering around. It’s not complicated. Just by walking around your area, talking to your employees, co-workers, bosses and the like (in our case, students!), you not only maintain a good line of communication but can improve how everyone does their job.

I notice this most when I get out of my building and go through places like our Campus Center. In buildings teeming with offices, casual spaces and interesting people, I often find myself in conversations that solve some kind of problem for one or both of us, move a project along or spark a whole new collaboration. Sitting down to lunch or talking over a cup of coffee provides a much richer, deeper and more fruitful conversation than text messages or email, Facebook or Twitter ever could.

This is not to discount online communication. I’ve worked on good projects and formed great friendships with people before meeting them in person. But meeting them face to face — interacting in three dimensions in real time — makes the relationship so much richer. The same goes for your bosses or employees, your colleagues and your students. Social media can facilitate connections and communication, but it can never replace in-person interaction.

So … if you’re reading this in your office, I offer this simple challenge: Get out from behind that desk and wander around to talk face-to-face with at least three people you don’t normally speak with over the course of today. It could prove much more fruitful than you imagined!

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is ‘stuck in the office’ stuck in the office?

“You are out of tune with the times if you are in the office more than one-third of the time.” — Tom Peters, Thriving on Chaos, 1987

When it comes to being in touch with workers and customers alike, the words of Peters, the management guru, ring true more than two decades later. But the world has changed too. With the rise of the Internet and, more recently, social media, we can have instant or quick feedback from co-workers, peers and clients at any time. The amount of work and connections achievable with an iPhone transcends anything imagined in the 1980s. So does his analysis still seem valid?

For years, I’ve viewed e-mail as one of the best things that ever happened to my line of work. But now I’ve learned that it’s almost always easier to reach students via Facebook than email. My intern and I communicate via Twitter, and through tweets I’ve virtually attended great conferences or shared information from my conferences. Via various social-media methods, I can take care of so much business without leaving my desk and the MacBook Pro that is my window on the world.

But can even real-time electronic communication replace face-to-face communication? I would argue it can’t. Whenever I walk through our Campus Center, I almost always seem to run into people and conduct business. Whether it’s someone pitching me a story, an idea to start a new project or a conversation that replaces an unreturned phone call or email, a few random encounters can achieve more than a raft of calls, e-mails or messages via social media.

So does stuck in the office still mean stuck in the office? What do you think?

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bringing wow! back.

I was having a Viraligious¬© experience, reading a blog entry about Amazon exceeding customer expectations, when I thought of Tom Peters’ book The Pursuit of Wow!: Every Person’s Guide to Tupsy-Turvy Times, and why we’ve come expect poor service today. We endure long lines and disinterested big-box retail employees for perceived low prices. We become accustomed to long waits and indifferent operators in outsourced helplines. We anticipate our interactions to underscore our low view of customer service.

Why? We may as well champion mediocrity if we aren’t trying to achieve, or even inspire, excellence. If service is as poor as we perceive, shouldn’t we be all the more determined to provide exceptional service? Making customers happy represents a point of differentiation, a value-added that colors experiences in an all-too-grey time.

What about the world of higher education? When I do something nice for a student, they are sometimes shocked. Why? Are expectation-exceeding experiences really that rare for college students? Don’t we have the power to change that perception, to create Wow! on a regular basis?

Consider a prospective student who applies to several colleges, including yours. What if, in return for her considering your institution, you provide some kind of Wow! experience? Representatives of student clubs contacting her with the benefits of getting involved? A current student offering to be there, any time, to answer her questions? Some kind of premium, discount or opportunity (where legal) if she commits to your college by a certain date? If you exceed the expectations of prospective students, while other institutions treat them like American Gladiators contestants, what would that do to your conversion rate? Wouldn’t you love to have young brand evangelists before they’ve even enrolled in classes? There’s no better advertisement, after all, than a satisfied customer.

Is Wow! dead as a concept? Absolutely not. Whether you supported him or not, no campaign inspired more Wow! than Barack Obama. Gizmos like Apple’s iPhone and the Blackberry Storm provide sufficient Wow! that people want to pre-order the pricey products. Any Web surfer can stumble across a site, video or blog that injects a moment of Wow! into their day. Inspiring Wow! doesn’t have to be difficult nor expensive nor time-consuming … it just means thinking about what makes people happy.

So what have you done to make someone say Wow! lately?

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