Muse’s Laws

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned Muse’s Laws. Some explanation is probably in order.

The late, great Leonard A. Muse passed away 7 years ago last month. Mr. Muse was a close family friend and a very successful businessman. He was a world-class hunter and a crack shot, and for his memorial service, his family held a skeet shoot with his ashes packed in the shotgun shells. At the end they passed out business cards with two truly invaluable bits of wisdom, one per side.

On one side were Muse’s Laws:

  1. Never Assume Anything;
  2. If You Don’t Know, Ask;
  3. And There Is Always A Better Way.

Since that day, I’ve passed this wisdom on to every employee and co-worker, and now I pass it on to you, dear reader. It’s part of our corporate philosophy at PassageMaker.

The other side of the business card had an even more invaluable bit of wisdom, the recipe for the Muse Margarita, which is the best I or anyone I know has ever tasted. Nothing is harder than simple:

  • 1 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice
  • 1.25 oz. Clear (White) Tequila
  • 1.5 oz. Bols Triple-Sec
  • serve on the rocks

The Muse Margarita should be part of our corporate philosophy, as we try to be a fun place to work. Maybe I’ll talk Mike into that in 2010. In any case, enjoy the rest of your day!

P.S. – The cell phone odyssey resolved itself today. Excellent customer service from Verizon. Droid is not there yet – wimpy, immature email client – so I went with a Blackberry Storm 2. Very happy all around.

Thoughts on Droid, Muse’s Laws and managing expectations

So my much beloved Blackberry Pearl, which I’ve had since they first hit the market 3-4 years ago, finally started to malfunction a little too often for my tastes. Trackball sticking, freezing, crashing, etc. It’s been around the world a few times, dropped on the floor of Chinese factories, nearly crushed in luggage, caught with me in monsoons, etc. It has been the single electronic best device I’ve ever owned of any description. Better than my rice cooker, and I have a deep and abiding affection for my rice cooker. Were it not for the malfunctions, I would keep the Pearl indefinitely.

But AT&T’s service is expensive and spotty in this area and they wanted too much money for a new Pearl with basically no new features. So a’shopping-we-went.

The new Droid caught my eye. Very slick device and I loved the actual keyboard. The touch-screen keyboards of the iPhone and Blackberry Storm turned me off. All the other new Blackberries are a step backwards to the monster machines of old – big, wide and heavy. The Pearl was slim, light and elegant. Oh, how I loved it.

I thought I could love the Droid, and for about an hour I did. I got it late on Saturday, around 7 PM and tinkered with it all through dinner. The kids loved watching youtube, listening to music, etc. All was well until I tried to sync it with Outlook on Sunday.

Before I bought it, I asked two separate “sales technicians” with Verizon over the course of three visits whether or not the Droid would synchronize with Outlook contacts and calendar. Yes sir, Mr. Kelly, no problem, of course it will. Easy as pie. I have over 2500 contacts in my Outlook, and I manage a global sales force with representatives in USA, Mexico, Brazil, Europe and Asia using Outlook, so this is not a side issue.

Turns out, that’s not even close to true. Now I will give all involved the benefit of the doubt and assume they were poorly trained. The Droid is a new device after all. But after wasting all day Sunday trying to synchronize the device, I started calling technicians on Monday. They were going to send me a link to the software online; they didn’t. And when I finally got to a regional level tech who actually knows something, the truth comes out.

Motorola and Google, in a move that I hope smacks them both in the face across the fruited plain, apparently failed to launch this product with any software that would allow the ongoing synchronization of data between the device and Outlook (which is estimated to have around 60% market share). Oh, we can “sync” the device one time to transfer all the data to the phone, but no ongoing synchronization like with Blackberries, Palms, etc. Forget about the fact that this is a one-time transfer of data, not really a synchronization.

Microsoft sucks. I get it Google. Heard you loud and clear. I hate them too. Vista is a war crime and Office 2007 should result in public hangings in Redmond. My next laptop will be a Mac, and I will burn Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer in effigy when I have spare minute. All the cute ads promoting Windows 7 – “I’m a PC and Windows 7 was my idea” – make me retch. How about “I’m a customer and with 85% global market share you should be able to create software that doesn’t stink on ice without my freakin’ input, you over-paid, incompetent jerks”.

Outlook is the majority player. Who in their right mind launches a smart phone that ignores 60% of the potential market? And even more amazing, they don’t even have software to synchronize with Google contacts. Only Google calendar.

W. T. H?

Maybe tomorrow the story will change, but even if there is a software solution, how about making it available as part of the purchase of the phone?!

Now why do I torture you, dear reader, with all this? Because I want to point out the guiding principles behind PassageMaker’s philosophy of customer service, and highlight how Verizon is re-earning my trust.

The initial sales force over-promised and under-delivered. They forgot Muse’s 1st and 2nd Laws – “Never Assume Anything” and “If You Don’t Know, Ask”.

The cardinal sin of supply chain management is not managing expectations. ALWAYS under-promise and over-deliver. ALWAYS assume it will take longer, cost more, be painful, etc., and then be happy when things go better than planned.

You have to be able to say “no” and “I don’t know”. Often, those are the right answers. We had a client once who wanted to go from drawing to production in 10 days. For a plastic part. That required tooling. After stifling the urge to laugh, I politely went through a reasonable time frame – approximately 30 days, but we’d the best we could to expedite things. When first articles were ready ahead of schedule and only a bit later than his original deadline, everyone’s happy. But had I committed to the 10 days and been 3-4 days late, it would have been a disaster.

Muse’s 3rd Law is “There Is Always A Better Way”. This afternoon the regional rep called to tell me he thinks he’s found a solution that he will test tonight on his own system. He is driving an hour and a half to the store closest to me to fix the problem, either by getting the Droid to work with Outlook as promised, or find me a phone that works for me. The mistake should not have been made in the first place, but nearly every problem outside of the Middle East has a solution. Showing the willingness to find that better way is a sign that this young man gets it.

All of us at PassageMaker understand this and are taught Muse’s Laws. We are not perfect, but when something goes wrong, we step up and take the hit, no excuses. Our goal is the client’s success and satisfaction, and you will NOT achieve either by making promises you can’t keep or trying to shirk responsibility when you make a mistake. How you handle a problem says more about a person or a company than any advertising.