September 24, 2005

Mail Order/Internet in a Store

Business 2.0 has an article called "Why Some Brands Can Stand Alone" about retailers and specialty stores, citing Lego and its large play area as a giant success.

Shunned by kids for digital play alternatives and challenged by an onslaught of rivals, Lego has been under attack in recent years. Yet things may be turning around for the 73-year-old Danish toymaker. A Star Wars licensing deal has propelled sales of Lego sets based on the movies, and the construction-toy category has been hot. Another part of its business also offers hope: It's called the Lego Store, and it's boosting sales and luring customers in malls and well-to-do suburbs across the United States.
We have the print version that goes into a whole lot more detail (like the part I mentioned), but branded stores is the point of the article.

Today, Brian and I visited the new Omaha Steaks store in Richmond Heights. which is a trendy stop for the product one normally receives in the big styrofoam (a large component of my personal hell) container with a hefty shipping charge attached. For about $60, we walked out with 12 5 oz steaks, two boxes of burgers, and some beef jerky thrown in. I bought spice, too. Not bad - but the point is, I was already in the area, and we were out of steaks, and the store was there, and we knew what we wanted, so, bam, instant transaction. Almost like a convenience store, but for a product I can't get elsewhere.

If you're a fan of Omaha Steaks, this is a good weekend to visit. Lots of specials. Many more of the stores are opening up across the US, too, seemingly.


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September 01, 2005

Need Staff Paper?

So I found myself wanting for staff paper tonight. Easy enough fix (and how cool is this):


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June 22, 2005

Workload and Responsibility

I'm going to bring back this blog - just not quite yet. But sometimes there's something you just have to say and define for the world.

Workload: What's currently on your plate that you know needs to be done/delegated.

Responsibility: Everything you "own" that could, all at once, immediately jump onto your plate and demand to be eaten by morning (or next Thursday, which still isn't reasonable.).

The longer you stay with one employer, the more of BOTH you acquire. And, typically, you get fairly good with the workload portion and knowing how much you can handle (if your responsibilities are predictable) and when you'll need help or need to delegate.

However, it's the responsibility factor that I think a lot of employers mischaracterize. Responsibility is:

1) Being the one who is called at 4:00 a.m. because a server is down in the Czech Republic and it interfaces with your application so the people who typically go through the Czech Republic interface can't get to your application and are upset.

2) Handling someone's new interpretation of a specification that's sat dormant for two months and then suddenly is active again (remember the next Thursday comment) and has become urgent.

3) Being aware that one of your accounts can at any time request that you be in a different city next week for two or three days to close a sales call.

4) Not scheduling your own vacation because it would impact a project that no one else can do.

5) Taking calls on your vacation because ... (see #4)

6) Knowing that on day [x] (but you're not sure exactly which day [x] actually is...just that it's soon) you will manage conflicting needs for different clients where working on one jeopardizes your ability to complete the other.

None of these things is scheduled and on the plate as workload, and yet it's all still looming because you know for doing this so long exactly what it all means. And you consider it every day because to not consider it means that you run the risk of being reactive instead of proactive. And with the combination of workload and responsibility like that, you can't AFFORD to be reactive.

And, if you're wise, you keep your workload as small as possible. If not, your weeks are 60+ hours because your workload is 35 to 40, and then there are all the things you didn't plan for that still rear their urgent, and sometimes ugly, heads. So a 40 - 45 hour week is much more likely actually fully productive and better managed than a 60 hour frazzled reactive week.

Just thought it worth one additional comment. The downside. You're paid for your workload - the things you do in the "normal" course of business. (As if business were normal!) You're not paid for how well you handle responsibility or the fires you put out before they leap into the meadow or a neighbor's home.

I believe this is an issue with the business world, especially the IT portion.


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