Where Winners Spend their 2%

I don’t know if you remember but for close to a decade, starting around the mid-2000s, people couldn’t shut up about Steve Jobs. This seemed to coincide with the release of the iPhone, YouTube, and social media, which makes sense.

All of the content seemed to herald Jobs as Tech-Jesus. The iPod was the second coming of the WalkMan, but better, and iTunes seemed to have solved the music industry crisis brought on by Napster and P2P sharing sites. Truly, Steve was a god among men. I was unmoved by all of it.

Maybe it was because of where my head was at the time but it all seemed a little fan-boyish to get so wrapped up in a dude that owned one outfit. And they were making a cell phone? Without a keyboard? Way to waste a billion dollars, my dude.

Except it was everything. But I never appreciated why before I saw this video.

My biggest takeaway was Steve discussing how they looked at Information Technology and how companies were obtaining it. All of them spent around 2% on IT, but they differed in where the bulk of those purchases went. Not-so-successful companies spent it on management productivity. Successful companies spent on operational productivity.

What does that mean?

It means that regular joes were focused largely on incremental improvements to how they already did things. A better email client, server, PCs, etc… Successful companies were focused on applications that could do repeatable and automatable things for them. The second requires more effort than buying something off the shelf. Applications had to be made and coded at a time when that wasn’t an easy thing to do. Steve focused on applications when the vast majority of people had never heard of the term.

The iPhone dominated with the advent of apps. Your phone could do things now. Your phone could execute tasks that tangibly made your life better. For at least three years, you couldn’t go a month without someone telling you about the next killer app you needed to download. What could the Blackberry do? Bang out long-winded emails with ease? That was about it.

This especially resonated with me as that’s where our focus is; automate and create custom functions that add continuous value. In our business, competitive advantage looks like high renewal rates and lower operating costs, and the best way to get there is with great systems.

RIP, Steve. At least one of your movies was really good.

Two Certainties in Life: Death, and that Burger King will suck.

There used to be two things you could famously be certain of: Death and taxes. I realized today this is wrong – taxes can be avoided.

One could live on an island, fishing & bartering, essentially living like Santiago from “Old Man and the Sea” and in doing so avoid all taxes. Death is still death. Pity.

The new certainty I garnered today is that every encounter one has with Burger King will suck. In some small, minuscule way, no exchange will ever result in even an atom’s worth of joy for the consumer. It is perfectly bad.

No small feat, that.

More certain than taxes.

More certain than taxes.

It never has to be a complete disaster and it usually isn’t. It’s the small things. Somehow, Burger King has found a way to ensure every single interaction is just, well… kind of shitty. I don’t know where they’re recruiting from, or how they manage to get exclusive rights to the worst in the fast food industry, but they are unrivaled in terrible service.

It’s everywhere too, and it has always been thus. In 2002 I sat in a BK drive through for 45 minutes. Why would I do such a thing? Dear reader, I had nothing better to do at 8:30 P.M. on a Wednesday night, and I desperately needed to see how far down the rabbit hole went. BTW, it goes pretty damn far.

I finally turned off my engine at 25 minutes in and walked to the window to see what the problem was. Broken equipment? Out of stock? Nope. Just plain old naked incompetence. Five workers were attempting to run the store and apparently none knew how to do anything. Instead of going to the grill area to help, all sat perfectly still in their respective stations, looking desperately lost.

It’s typically the little things though – the getting some small aspect of your order wrong – fries vs. onion rings, coke vs. diet. Other times  it’s something far more insidious.

A request for ketchup is always met with the derisive sneer of someone you’ve just trapped into helping you move your sleeper sofa up and down three flights of stairs. The (apparently required) once-over will scan your soul in order to analyze exactly how many packets of red-gold you are worthy of. Please know, this is in no way related to the amount of fries you’ve ordered. Your presumed social status, religious preference, job, hair style, politics, favorite movie, etc…- all come into play to complete the formula.

Regardless of how many patrons are seeking to fill their face holes with Whoppers, the service will be agonizingly slow. Almost suspiciously so. Because they make it your way, you may offer in their defense? Hardly. I’m convinced a rousing game of Mahjong is going on back there, with those glorious ketchup packets serving as the prize, fully redeemable for BK Swag at the end of the year.

Dios mio, man.

This might be funny if it weren’t so singularly creepy.

And I won’t even address the end product – you know, the actual burgers. I’m almost in awe really. Having frequented a number of stores in a number of cities, I can’t help but conclude this consistently bad performance is anything other than deliberate. It’s too consistent to be accidental, or chalked up to a few poor performers. No, this goes all the way to the top. To the creepy dude wearing the crown.

If Apple made it their mission to make technology easy and accessible with minimalist design, then BK has surely made it their mission to insure you have a bad time.

Somewhere, on a plaque in the royal palace, is a mission statement reminding the King to crap all over everyone’s day.

Mission accomplished.