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Memo to the modern COO

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Memo to the modern COO

Why is it so hard for organizations to understand what Tony did with customer service at Zappo's?

Instead of measuring the call center on calls answered per minute, he insisted that the operators be trained and rewarded to take their time and actually be human, to connect and make a difference instead of merely processing the incoming.

People hear this, see the billion dollars in goodwill that was created, nod their heads and then go back to running an efficient call center. Why?

In the industrial era, the job of the chief operating officer revolved around two related functions:

Decrease costs
Increase productivity

The company knew what needed to be done, and operations was responsible for doing it. Cutting costs, increasing reliability of delivery, getting more done with less--From Taylor on, the job was pretty clear.

In the post-industrial age, when thriving organizations do something different tomorrow than they did yesterday, when the output is connection as much as stuff, the objectives are very different. In today's environment, the related functions are:

Increase alignment
Decrease fear


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