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Not everything that happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas...

I've spent the last 5 days in Las Vegas attending KronosWorks. Kronos, our sponsor, had close to 2000 attendees at the conference - customers, press and analysts, and Kronos employees. Although I'm not typically a fan of Las Vegas, I had many "aha" moments this week that I'd like to share. Here are my top ten from this over-the-top city in the desert.

  1. Customer community building is king for any company. For technology companies like Kronos, creating opportunities for customers to interact with each other is incredibly powerful as users share both their successes and their failures with each other. Companies can't throw a big party like KronosWorks every day, but they should be relentless in their pursuit of the customer point of view throughout the year.
  2. I've written a few times about customer service and customer retention in this blog. As an employee, there is nothing like seeing a couple thousand of your loyal customers together in one place to make you feel proud of your contribution to making that happen and to energize you to find more reasons for those customers to feel that loyalty. One of Kronos' top sales reps told me he'd never been to the conference before, and that the opening day of the conference was one of his proudest days at Kronos, as he looked across the huge crowd.
  3. Daniel Pink's tip on the best interview question - Are you lucky? Those who anwer yes tend to be collaborative, creative, and successful at work.
  4. Marcus Buckingham's speech about the central fallacy of performance evaluations was intriguing. He talked about the power of focusing on developing employees' strengths and leveraging them - vs. focusing performance conversations on what employees need to "fix" about themselves. He didn't imply that managers should ignore ineffective behavior, but rather find ways to help themselves and their employees to maximize the frequency that they can be their most effective at work by identifying individual strengths and leveraging the knowledge in individual and team assignments.
  5. In a follow on meeting with about 35 executive attendees at the Workforce Institute Executive Seminar, Marcus led an equally compelling conversation about the behaviors that make for effective leadership. His definition: the purpose of a leader is to rally people to a better future. He talked not only about the importance of providing a clear vision of the future, but specifically about the need to make that vision vivid through storytelling and picking the right heroes in the organizational culture.
  6. Former Navy Commander Michael Abrashoff spoke about the importance of harnessing the wisdom of the team. I had read a profile on him in Fast Company when it was published in 1999. He is notable for having transformed the ship under his command from the worst to the best in the Navy at that time. He has subsequently retired from the Navy and is a well known author and speaker. He attributes his success to his focus on demonstrating respect for his sailors - not just through common courtesy, but by actively investing in their development and proactively seeking their advice on how to improve the command. His story about rusty bolts alone was worth the price of admission.
  7. Gary Heil of the Center for Innovative Leadership spoke to the Workforce Institute event attendees about strategies for driving change in their organizations. One of the interesting ideas he talked about was the notion that many leaders never really get comfortable with the change they say they want to achieve in their organizations. If leaders aren't committed to leaving their own comfort zones, it's unlikely they'll inspire others to do so.
  8. Heil also talked about the importance of the impact of the environment on in supporting the change you seek. The specific environmental factors he encouraged us to think about were:
    1. Having a cause worth committing to
    2. Providing people with an opportunity to learn and grow
    3. Giving people the responsibility to a make a meaningful contribution
    4. Enabling a culture of mutual support and friendship
    5. Ensuring that structures (pay, benefits, opportunities) are fair and equitable
  9. I loved this quote from Heil - "People without information can't take responsibility". Business intelligence and business analytics are one of those topics that can seem arcane or obscure until you finally realize that you're flying blind as you make risky and expensive decisions.
  10. Last, but certainly not least, I was reminded again about how lucky I am to have such a great team of colleagues at Kronos. As is true in all organizations, there are plenty of daily obstacles to overcome to drive results. Great outcomes like KronosWorks are the payoff for a lot of hard work. Even more important is the great esprit de corps that pervaded the last five days. Hats off, fellow Kronites! Let's do it again tomorrow....

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