Today, was a very difficult day at Thomas Nelson. We informed fifty-four of our friends and co-workers (about 10% of our workforce) that we have eliminated their jobs, effective this Friday. This will affect nearly every department in our company.
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As the company’s CEO, I am deeply grateful for our First Responders. They are not receiving additional compensation. They are simply doing this out of their love for the company and for their fellow-employees. Frankly, I rest much better knowing that we have trained people ready and available should an emergency occur.
I challenged Lindsey Nobles, my Director of Corporate Communications, to create a Web site specifically designed for bloggers who are interested in reviewing our books. We launched the Thomas Nelson Book Review Bloggers (BRB) site yesterday. I am especially proud of what Lindsey and her team accomplished in less than six weeks.
Last week, in honor of our new dress code, I wore jeans every single day. I loved how much more productive I felt. I don’t know if it was the jeans per say or just the change of pace. Regardless, I like it.
But I am noticing that that a new model of leadership is taking root in many organizations, including our own here at Thomas Nelson. In this model, the leader’s primary role is to initiate conversations that bring out the best thinking of the tribe and direct those conversations toward a positive outcome.
I am confident that you will find Lynne Spear’s story inspiring, as I did. You owe it to yourself to suspend judgment and read it for yourself. I guarantee you this: it is very different than everything you have heard.
Recently, Dave Koss, the video director for our Live Events division, put together a brilliant, time-lapse video showing the entire setup and takedown of a Women of Faith event. If you have never been, this “shoehorns” the whole experience into three minutes and forty-three seconds. I can’t believe they do this 30 times a year! (That doesn’t even count 16 additional Revolve events for teen girls.)
Digital communication has changed everything. If a customer has a bad experience, he can email his friends, Twitter his followers, or blog about his experience. In the blink of an eye, one bad experience can cascade into thousands—and even millions—of impressions. Brands can be damaged in a few days.
Ridiculed for a generation, the butterfly effect was eventually proved by scientists and given the status of a law: ”The law of sensitive dependence on initial conditions.” It basically means that everything you do—and don’t do—matters. It has a bigger impact on the world than you can possibly imagine. I got to thinking about the application of this law to customer service this weekend. Sometimes, we underestimate the impact our actions have on our customers and ultimately the health of our organizations.
A couple of weeks ago, I made an offer to bloggers. I told them that we would send them a free copy of The Faith of Barack Obama by Stephen Mansfield in exchange for their agreement to write a 200-word review of the book. So far, we’ve had 161 requests for the book. As of this morning, we’ve had 24 reviews appear. (This number is increasing daily.)
The companies that thrive in today’s economy will be those that can shift their cultures from the slower pace of business-as-usual to urgency. Because of this, I have made “Urgency” our annual theme for Thomas Nelson. I want this attribute to permeate every aspect of our culture. I know we have a long way to go.