The amazing business model of Santa, Inc.

When the success of your organization depends on global delivery within a window of just 24 hours, it’s imperative for your logistics and delivery systems to be flawless. Add to that a strict focus on delighting the customers using processes that rely heavy on outsourcing and you can see just what a challenge it would be. Wait a minute! There’s also that whole “deliver significant shareholder value and growth, year after year” thing. Daunting? Yes. But not for Santa, Inc.

How does the company do it?

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Product Managers: Doing nothing is a lot of work

It’s a question every product manager faces: What do you do, exactly? I got it from a newly appointed Executive Vice President of Marketing, to whom all the Product Managers reported, about eight years ago. After a short reflection, my answer was simple. Sort of. They do nothing—but it’s a lot of work.

It was certainly not the answer he was expecting, and I somehow felt compelled to provide a further explanation to my boss’s boss if, for no other reason, than to keep my job.

But at least I got his attention.

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Passion and care: Business lessons from the top chefs

In recent months, I’ve found myself watching numerous food-related documentaries. From the Netflix show, Chef’s Table, to the PBS series, The Mind of a Chef (also available on Netflix), it’s fascinating to see the passion displayed by these culinary geniuses. It’s also interesting to see how they focus on every detail, how they all craft the unique experience they provide with care in an effort to achieve customer delight.

These shows also share glimpses of the journey some of them took to find their own voice, their unique value proposition that enables them to stand out. While each of these chefs have very different culinary styles and experiences, they offer amazing examples of customer delight. And although the lessons they teach are from the culinary world, they can be used by companies of any size and in any sector to achieve similar success.

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Start with the media release, not the MRD, when developing new products

Most product-management methodologies offer an organized series of steps, from the more strategic aspects to the tactical execution. One of the key pieces that is almost universally considered a key deliverable by product managers is the market-requirement document, often simply called the MRD. These steps and documents are very fact-based and almost always lack a way to share the big picture and the emotion you want to create.

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What does it take to learn to fly?

It was a clear day and the temperature was a little above zero, unusual for the middle of January in the nation’s capital. But I hardly noticed the weather as I was lost in a world of my own having finally achieved a childhood dream. As I walked on onto the airport apron, approaching my aircraft, I was a little nervous. I had flown before but, having just been issued my private pilot’s license (PPL), this was the first time—not counting my flight test—I would be what is known as the “pilot-in-command.”

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Microsoft’s transition to a customer-centric company

High-technology products can be divided into many different categories. One such segmentation is to divide products into those you want to use vs. those you have to use.

For the first group, many Apple products almost certainly come to mind. Its devices are beautiful and designed to enhance the overall user experience. Together, the hardware and software are recognized as being among the best—if not the very best—around.

When it comes to products you have to use, however, did Microsoft come to mind?

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What is “customer delight”?

Have you ever tried to use a new product and, instead of going through the documentation, simply followed the steps that seemed logical to you? If it worked, did you think “cool, they thought about that” or “the product understands me” or even “I wish every product I used were this easy”?

Customer delight is about putting a smile on a user’s face when he tries your product. It’s about understanding the users and delivering a great experience that enables them to be more creative, productive, or innovative when it comes to their tasks or the goals they are trying to achieve. It is about customers loving your product and wanting to use it rather than using it only because they have no choice. It’s ultimately about having a product that matters to the customer, one that builds an emotional connection with them.

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