A Plea for 2007

24 December 2006

Let There Be Light
by Point of Grace

(Star of wonder, star of might)
(Star with royal beauty bright)
(Westward leading, still proceeding)
(Guide us to thy perfect light)

From the beginning the Father
Had a magnificent plan
Revealed through the law and the prophets
To fulfill the redemption of man
He spoke after centuries of silence
In the midst of a still, starry night
And Emmanuel came down among us
And the Father said “Let there be light”

Let there be light!
Let it shine bright
Piercing the darkness with dazzling white
Hope for the hopeless was born on that night
When God sent his Son
And said “Let there be light”
Let there be light! Oh Yea Yea!

People who walked in great darkness
Gathered from near and afar
Shepherds with flocks in their keeping
Three kings who follow a star
Together the poor and the richest
Witness that Bethlehem night
And the sky full of angels announcing
The birth of a glorious light

Let there be light!
Let it shine bright
Piercing the darkness with dazzling white
Hope for the hopeless was born on that night
When God sent his Son
And said “Let there be light”
Let there be light! Oh Yea Yea!

We who are His have this calling
To praise Him, and make His name known
So one day the presence of Jesus
Shines in every heart and every home
(Shines in our home)
(Star of wonder, star of beauty bright)

Let there be light!
Let it shine bright
Piercing the darkness with dazzling white
Hope for the hopeless was born on that night
When God sent his Son
And said “Let there be light”
Let there be light! Oh Yea Yea!

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After Hours My Foot

25 November 2006

After a week-long cooling off period, I’ve composed myself well enough to write clearly about After Hours Formalwear. This company is a classic example of a company that wants to appear good, but is unwilling to pay the price to be good. Companies that have grown almost exclusively by acquisition often show this trait.

The short story comes first. They botched the ordering and sizing of a tux for the father of the bride. Their attempt to recover was worse. They simply do not understand the importance of what they are doing. No matter how many people I talk to, I’ll spend the rest of my days discouraging anyone who will listen from using the services of After Hours Formalwear.

Now for the longer story. My oldest daughter got married last Saturday. The wedding was far removed from Memphis where I went for the tux fitting. I was instructed to pick up the tux the Thursday prior to the wedding in a city near the wedding site.

I put the tuxedo on that Thursday and discovered that the coat had been improperly measured and sized. For overnight delivery, I requested a replacement coat in the proper size. It was then that I discovered that “overnight” meant after 3pm on Friday.

Now for some conjecture and lessons. After Hours probably knows better than I ever will – they have the data – but, I suspect a majority of weddings occur on weekends. Just a guess. Further, most traditional and semi-traditional weddings have a rehearsal and a rehearsal dinner the evening before the wedding. The father of a bride must attend the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. The last thing he has time to do is to go to some After Hours location after 3pm when a rehearsal is scheduled for 4pm.

The lesson here is that After Hours should design and implement a business process that accommodates the tight time table and the importance of the product they offer. This will be difficult to pull off when you employ teenage girls who think that fathers-of-brides are simply the downside of the job — sort of like cleaning the tables was the downside of flipping burgers at their last job.

Here are the things that After Hours got wrong:

  1. the shirt sleeves were not the right length
  2. the shirt was missing a button
  3. the shoes were caked with dried mud
  4. the coat was the wrong size
  5. the time for picking up the replacement coat was unacceptable
  6. the attitude toward a Dad trying to look good for his daughter’s wedding was awful
  7. the replacement coat was the wrong size
  8. there was no time to correct the second error made concerning the coat
  9. when inquiring about how to escalate my concerns, both locations were well-schooled to say, “we can’t do anything here; you’ll have to talk to a district manager.”
  10. neither location was able to provide information about how to reach a district manager

These are not the idle rantings of someone with too little to do. They are not the ravings of some persistently offended consumer. Rather, they are the complaints of a customer who attempted to use the services of After Hours Formalwear. They are the complaints of a customer who was further offended by the lack of concern and attention given to the original errors and complaints.

If you are planning a wedding or you have any influence over the planning for a wedding, advise this:

  • DO NOT RENT TUXEDOS FROM AFTER HOURS FORMALWEAR
  • Rent from someone more dependable or advise the wedding party to buy traditional tuxes for future needs
  • Make certain that any company you rent from appreciates the importance of their role in the wedding

As a long-time quality professional who has some insight into quality and customer service challenges, it’s obvious what is needed. After Hours should immediately undertake a detailed process and measurement review to fix their quality problem. They must begin by getting brutally honest about what an error or non conformance is in the eyes of their customer. They won’t, but it is precisely what they ought to do. They simply don’t have a clue.

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Today Minus 31 Years

13 November 2006

Since our last meeting we have been through a disastrous election. It is easy for us to be discouraged, as pundits hail that election as a repudiation of our philosophy and even as a mandate of some kind or other. But the significance of the election was not registered by those who voted, but by those who stayed home. If there was anything like a mandate it will be found among almost two-thirds of the citizens who refused to participate.

Bitter as it is to accept the results of the November election, we should have reason for some optimism. For many years now we have preached “the gospel,” in opposition to the philosophy of so-called liberalism which was, in truth, a call to collectivism.

Now, it is possible we have been persuasive to a greater degree than we had ever realized. Few, if any, Democratic party candidates in the last election ran as liberals. Listening to them I had the eerie feeling we were hearing reruns of Goldwater speeches. I even thought I heard a few of my own.

Those words were in Ronald Reagan’s 1975 speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. They could have been delivered this morning. They probably should have been.

The first individual, group or party to (seriously) stand for most (or all) of the following principles and run for office will get my next vote. Each is supported by another quote from Reagan’s speech!

Operate government efficiently and with common sense:

They went into every department of state government and came back with 1,800 recommendations on how modern business practices could be used to make government more efficient. We adopted 1,600 of them.

Reduce taxes (of all types):

We also turned over—for the first time in almost a quarter of a century—a balanced budget and a surplus of $500 million. In these eight years just passed, we returned to the people in rebates, tax reductions and bridge toll reductions $5.7 billion. All of this is contrary to the will of those who deplore conservatism and profess to be liberals, yet all of it is pleasing to its citizenry.

Balance the budget:

What side can be taken in a debate over whether the deficit should be $52 billion or $70 billion or $80 billion preferred by the profligate Congress?

Inflation has one cause and one cause only: government spending more than government takes in. And the cure to inflation is a balanced budget.

Drive free market capitalism:

Shorn of all side issues and extraneous matter, the problem underlying all others is the worldwide contest for the hearts and minds of mankind. Do we find the answers to human misery in freedom as it is known, or do we sink into the deadly dullness of the Socialist ant heap?

Rebuild our military:

We did not seek world leadership; it was thrust upon us. It has been our destiny almost from the first moment this land was settled. If we fail to keep our rendezvous with destiny or, as John Winthrop said in 1630, “Deal falsely with our God,” we shall be made “a story and byword throughout the world.”

Stand for lofty ambitions:

Americans are hungry to feel once again a sense of mission and greatness.

Fix the broken and ponderous tax code:

Let us also include a permanent limit on the percentage of the people’s earnings government can take without their consent.

Let our banner proclaim a genuine tax reform that will begin by simplifying the income tax so that workers can compute their obligation without having to employ legal help.

And let it provide indexing—adjusting the brackets to the cost of living—so that an increase in salary merely to keep pace with inflation does not move the taxpayer into a surtax bracket. Failure to provide this means an increase in government’s share and would make the worker worse off than he was before he got the raise.

Who will drive for this vision?

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Can You See This?

7 November 2006

Bill Whittle hasn’t given us anything new to read in a while. This week is different. We now have Seeing the Unseen-Part 1.

Are you able willing to see it?

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The Sun Also Rises

4 November 2006

I like what Simon Phipps writes. His reporting of what others are saying about the Novell/Microsoft alliance as well as his own comments are worth your time.

Sun is one of those companies I’ve always liked, but wished could achieve even greater market share. In spite of that company’s challenges, they’ve always been on my short list of companies I’d gladly work for.

I’ve seen so many better mousetraps cast off for want of a market big enough to sustain them. In the early 1980’s there were numerous Silicon Valley startups focused on multiuser Unix systems running on Motorola 68000 chips. Those companies are long gone, but Sun found a different niche in 1982 and sustained itself.

When Sun began applying all of that Unix and 68000 know-how to single-user workstations in a network, it became clear what the future of multiuser systems would be. Fuzzy recollections prevent me from being certain whether I first saw Sun’s product running SunOS or an early Solaris. Whatever, I remember seeing Sun’s software desktop wrapped around Unix and thinking, “that’s where this whole thing is headed.”

Recent experimentation with Ubuntu Linux brought back some of those impressions. No operating system in common use today has been through the depth of history and development that Unix/Linux has been through.

Now there appears to be a serious attempt to control Linux with announcements from Oracle/Red Hat and Microsoft/Novell.

Let’s hope that Sun and some respectable alliance of FOSS folk can prevent all the patents from stifling innovation.

Sun’s Blackbox has gotten a lot of press. Rave reviews have come in on Sun’s X4500. Now is a great time for Sun to restate its position in the operating system, hardware and networking industry.

Now about those desktop OS choices...

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