Santa Claus – a business genius!

Volume 10 Letter 12

Ok I have to admit I did pretty good this Christmas…lots of great presents but the best gifts Santa brought were my two kids home for the holidays (albeit delayed by snowstorms in Europe and NA). As cool as my 21 and 18 year old appear to be on the outside they still get totally excited about Christmas morning and unwrapping their gifts.

How does this Santa guy do it? For millions of people around the world year after year he delivers on promises and most often just overwhelms us. He and his elf size management team deal with everything from production line issues, last minute recalls, order changes to inclement weather that threatens to disrupt his perfectly timed overnight delivery service. In the midst of what can only be described by the casual observer as orchestrated chaos, he manages to make it look easy taking time along the way to drink gallons of milk and eat bushels of cookies. My fingers tap in exhaustion just writing about it! How does this jolly man in a red suit do it and, more importantly, can we apply any Santa Claus wisdom to our 2011? After much investigation here’s what I came up with:

  1. Market research: Santa was probably the first and is still the best market researcher. He doesn’t just ask his customers “what they want” he looks into their hearts and ensures they also get “what they really need”. Does your business do in-depth research?
  2. Take time to plan: The guy is a relentless planner. Likely his plans for 2011 will start in a day or two when he debriefs his team on the 2010 Christmas run. I’m sure the snow storms in Europe and across NA tested Rudolf’s bright nose and played havoc with delivery plans. Does your team take time to plan and monitor how those plans are being implemented?
  3. Logistics / Logistics / Logistics: Santa has so perfected guaranteed overnight delivery that, rumor has it Fred Smith obtained a copy of Santa’s business and logistics plan and started FedEx. Do your logistical plans (R&D, Production, HR, Incentives, Finance etc) all tie into your strategic plan or do each of these areas operate independently?
  4. Monitor Customers: Santa’s data base is massive. Since long before scanners and cell ph apps Santa’s been keeping tabs on who’s been naughty or nice. He serves his customers well and he also helps them make wise choices. Are you working with your customers to make them more profitable or are you just profiting from them?
  5. Deliver hope: In the midst of financial crisis, job crisis, housing crisis, and any number of family to world crises he always delivers hope. Somehow, no matter how bad things are, Santa changes crisis into Christmas. I’m convinced that that’s why Santa works so hard each year…he knows that regardless of race or religion, every leader – political, business, religious or family … the number one job is to deliver hope. Every business delivers products and services … does your business deliver hope for a better tomorrow?

As we head into 2011 remember to do your research, take time to plan, coordinate your logistics with your plan, monitor your customers and your results ….and always deliver some measure of hope!

Have a wonderful and prosperous New Year!

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