April 28, 2006

News & Opinion: Does one size really fit all?

By: 800-CEO-READ @ 7:24 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

I've never really understood the t-shirts or caps that say one size fits all. Because does it ever really fit everyone? I mean no one is the same shape or height so where did the idea come from?
Chip Conley had this in mind when he founded Joie de Vivre ("joy of life" in French)--a hotel business with an understanding that, "People are different so one size doesn't fit all." This is how he grew JDV into the "one of the largest, if not the largest, hoteliers in the Bay area" by 2001.
Employee training consists of asking employees about their experiences as customers--when they had a great customer experience and when they had a negative experience. As he says, "What that gets (employees) to very quickly is that we have a big impact on how customers feel about themselves."
He also expresses the importance of "celebrating individuality". It reminds me of the old Apple ad titled "Think Different:
Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels...The ones who see things differently...About the only thing that you can't do is ignore them...Because they change things... Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Conley's focus on celebrating individuality has made his company different; customers feel special when they stay at his hotels and want to come back (and I imagine that his employees enjoy the environment, too).
So he left us with three tips in his
The Rebel Guide to Diversity (and Creating a Cool Company)
  • Once a month create a "Rebel for a Day" program
    Have someone go against the rules for one whole day. See what happens.

  • Let every employee in your department pick a celebration day.
    Whatever day your employee picks (May Day, Groundhog's Day, etc.), have them choose how to celebrate their favorite day.

  • Let them tell you how they'll succeed.
    "Ask them to finish the sentence, 'I am going to succeed because...'"

*From the April/May edition of Worthwhile magazine
*For more Chip Conley, check out his book published in 2001, The Rebel Rules