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May 30, 2012
Our Global Lighting Core Values Gatekeeper Denise Bovell has returned from her dynamic experience at the Zappos Insights Boot Camp with some heady excitement following several days immersed in the Zappos culture. We thought we’d let her tell you the highlights in her own words; take it away Dee!
I went to Zappos Insights Boot Camp with the goal of gleaning facets of their program that we could use to benefit our tribe here at Global Lighting, and I wasn’t disappointed. Some things I found to be the most interesting are:
They have a goals program, which can be used for personal or professional advancement, lasting for 30-days. Each person who participates has a mentor helping them to explore how to begin the process of attaining a goal or goals they desire to achieve.
I learned that the core values we’ve created should never be changed: they are like the support beams under the GL skyscraper. In five years, you wouldn’t want to kick the beams out from under the structure of your building, as they are core to the integrity of the structure. It’s the same with the core values we’ve created.
Each and every Zappos customer service associate has the right to make a decision when they are on the phone with a customer as to how that customer’s issue should be treated: they simply know what to do so they don’t have to ask anyone what decision should be made to address the customer’s request. This is in their training and it truly stood out for me as something remarkable.
I was surprised at their philosophy of overstaffing. They do this so that they have more hands than they need, which allows them to create the exemplary level of service they maintain.
It was fascinating to see the dedication of the people they hire, who invest in the experience wholeheartedly. As I watched the service calls take place, there was a “Wow” during 7 out of 10 of them. That’s quite a record of satisfaction that I believe any company would want to emulate.
With all employees in Las Vegas, there is an 80/20 rule: everyone works on their Zappos duties 80% of the time while being encouraged to participate in team-building and personal renewal 20% of the time. I thought the rejuvenating aspects of the split would be terrific to discuss with our team at Global Lighting so we could see what would be a good fit for us.
There was an emphasis on increasing personal value by learning about other departments, for example, that I found to be a excellent incentivizing tool. I was also interested to hear how much of CEO Tony Hsieh’s research into happiness they had integrated into their philosophies. For instance, happy employees are less likely to be sick than those who are discontent; which makes sense but I’d never thought about it so succinctly.
Their ways of handling conflict resolution was an eye-opener and something I believe we at Global Lighting can think about. They actually think of this issue as early as hiring, when they choose employees not only for their skill set, but also for how well they will fit within the culture they have created.
One premise stood out for me: If you get the culture right, everything else will flow naturally, but to get the culture right, you have to hire the right people who fit well with the dynamic you have in place. I have already begun to formulate interview questions for new hires that we will kick around at Global Lighting to see if they will strengthen our quality when we bring new people on board in the future.
We also had ample silliness during the experience, something they encourage because it allows everyone to “let their hair down” and bond in a way that’s intuitive. I’ll be sharing these ideas with our tribe here at Global Lighting as we go forward. The thing I took away the most strongly, I suppose, is that what they put together at Zappos transcends a working environment; it’s a lifestyle. It struck me as I listened to the leaders of the boot camp say that the most important thing a company can do for its employees is to create a framework for happiness. Who doesn’t want to be happy?
Of course we all, do, Dee, and we’re certainly happy to be a B2B entity taking this subject seriously; we see ourselves as a personal learning center. Every once in a while we learn of other companies taking their core values seriously. We’ll add them to the list here when we find them, the first of which is Benjamin West. We can’t wait to see what insights from Zappos continue to inform our culture.