Stuff your “Business Values”

While being surveyed about telecommunications the other day, I was asked: “Thinking specifically about [some telco], how much do you like them, trust them and feel they reflect the values you stand for?”

I don’t care whether they “reflect the values I stand for”, because they won’t really change their values. They’ll just change their advertising. If my values include racial tolerance, for instance, they’ll just add a few more smiling ethnic kiddies to their next batch of TV ads.

So why not cut the crap and get on with providing reliable, value-for-money services instead of talking about “values” you have no intention of upholding?

Boost, call me “Amanda”

Boost Juice Bars annoy me. It’s not the product — that’s just fruit juice. It’s not the loud music — that’s just a futile attempt to drown out the machines. No, it’s because they always want to know my name, when all I want is juice.

For Boost, this is part of “Our Guarantee”. I can’t link to it, they’ve got one of those stupid Flash websites. But it includes:

Be polite enough to call you by your first name.

Dodgy grammar aside, this assumes everyone wants to be called by name in a juice bar. I don’t. Apart from having an unusual name and not wanting to draw attention to it, like many people who grew up in the country I find it rude when a stranger demands my name. And I find it uncomfortable when some teenager calls out my name in a busy shop.

As Allan and Barbara Pease write in The Definitive Book of Body Language:

People raised in sparsely populated rural areas… need more Personal Space than those raised in densely populated cities.

This applies to psychological space as well as physical. I won’t tell a stranger my name until I know them a bit better. If I’m just buying juice, I’ll probably never see them again. So I’ll be polite, but I won’t want them to know anything personal. And I won’t be so rude as to ask them either.

Boost does this with best intentions. “Our Guarantee” also says:

Make you feel great, give you something to smile about and always give you a reason to choose BOOST!

But once I’ve placed my order, handed over cash and received change, that’s the end of the transaction. Psychologically I’ve moved into that state called “staring aimlessly at random objects while waiting”. A personal question at this point is unsettling.

So Janine Allis, founder of Boost, I’ll continue to tell your staff my name is Amanda Vanstone and let them suffer a little discomfort too. Unless , of course, there’s another juice bar nearby where I can remain comfortably anonymous.

33 Days of Wiki Inspiration

A wiki is a website which allows anyone to add, remove, or otherwise edit content, quickly and easily. The best-known wiki is Wikipedia, an open encyclopedia which anyone can contribute to.

But wikis are also good in a business context for maintaining documentation — because anyone can update the documentation immediately.

To show you what’s possible, Eastwikkers series has just started a series called “33 Wikis,” featuring best practices in wiki-based collaboration.

Each day — for 33 days — we will focus on one wiki, and we will briefly describe what the wiki is for, why we like it, and we can all learn from it.

I’ll be following it myself, and reporting back at the end.

[Update 16 January 2008: This page is still getting hundreds of visitors a month. I’m curious. How did you get to this page? What brought you here? And while you’re here, do feel free to look around and maybe even post a few comments.]