Monday, December 7, 2009

Viral Video-An Outstanding Example

It's called the Pink Glove Dance and was produced with the staff at Providence St. Vincent Medical Center for breast cancer awareness.

I am not commenting on the theme, which speaks for itself, and directly to me. Rather, I'd like to focus on the marketing and business lesson we can learn from it. Much is being said about viral video and how to use it to advantage. As of today, the video has 3,825,736 views, over 8,000 ratings, and a 5-star rating. It gained over 100,000 views since last night. Clearly, it is an outstanding viral video.

This is why it appeals to me, and what contributes to its success:
  1. It points to something greater than itself (i.e. St. Vincent's); it is not self-serving.
  2. It captures everyday, ordinary people celebrating life; the best of humanity in an honest, truthful, uplifting and happy way.
  3. It is well produced. While not a necessity for great video, good production values (music, choreograph) add to the enjoyment.
  4. It unleashes the power of emotion.
  5. It is believable; there is nothing false, misleading, or hidden.
  6. You would like to be part of it.

Note that there is no selling message, no voice-over or graphics that blatantly promote St. Vincent's.

The lesson is that when an organization or individual reaches out to honestly embrace ideas or causes greater than itself, it can succeed beyond expectation. There is no need for message manipulation. The bigger question is asked and answered-not "What's in it for me" but "What's in it for others." There are other strategies and tactics that will produce viral videos, but the Pink Glove Dance is a shining example of a job well done, from every point of view.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Strategy And The Fat Smoker

Strategy And The Fat Smoker: Doing What is Obvious But Not Easy is the latest book by management consultant David Maister. Its premise is that most of us know what to do; the problem is doing it. For example, to lose weight, we know that we should eat less and exercise more. Yet, we don't lose weight because we don't do what we know should be done.

Similarly, we know that some of the best business environments occur when people work collaboratively in teams, where all team members are equally respected, and when each member feels like he or she is contributing to something important.

David Maister would be proud of our experience at Memorial Sloane-Kettering. Before each of my wife's chemo treatments, an RN preps her with an IV and goes through a series of questions. On this latest occasion, I asked Ann if she like working at Memorial.

You can tell one's passion when they go beyond a yes or no response. Such was Ann's response when said that she loved working here because of the team philosophy that allowed her to develop a close working relationship with the attending doctor (the doctor and nurse are teamed); this, in turn, allowed her regular contact with patients with whom she established a caring relationship. At Memorial, staff are eager - and not resistent - to help with small requests (an expanded notion of the team) and the MDs treat the RNs as equals.

Maister is so very right. We know what contributes to satisfaction in the workplace, and we can see it alive even in such potentially depressing places as a cancer hospital. The real challenge is to do it.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Raptors In The Marketplace

There are raptors in the marketplace who masquerade as businessmen and women. Their role is to eat you. "The raptors of the world understand only one language"(1). Identify them and stay away from them. Do not do business with them unless you want to be eaten.

(1) Paraphrased from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, pg. 429.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Nature's Eternal Laws

"Stay close to nature and its eternal laws will protect you."

A sailing friend who has battled cancer introduced me today to the alternative dietary therapy of Max Gerson. Here is a capsule of that philosophy, from his website.

"Throughout our lives our bodies are being filled with a variety of disease and cancer causing pollutants. These toxins reach us through the air we breathe, the food we eat, the medicines we take and the water we drink. 

 "With its whole-body approach to healing, the Gerson Therapy naturally reactivates your body's magnificent ability to heal itself - with no damaging side-effects. "

The Wiki post on Gerson indicates that "the therapy is considered scientifically unsupported and potentially hazardous, and has been blamed for the deaths of patients who substituted it for standard medical care. I have no way of knowing the efficacy of the Gerson Therapy, but my friend says it saved his life. 

What I find particularly interesting is this summary by Max Gerson, "Stay close to nature and its eternal laws will protect you."

What would it mean to "stay close to nature" in business? Are there natural, eternal laws in business? And, if there are, what effect would they have?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Clinical Trials Create Business Intelligence

My wife is participating in a clinical trial. Memorial Sloan-Kettering and Harvard are behind it, so you can guess that it is highly detailed and precise.

First, she had to qualify based on very narrow parameters. To proceed, she had to agree on protocols that determine what happens (what chemicals are used), when, and how often. Further, she had to consent to a variety of tests that would be conducted.

The clinical trial agreement identifies the purpose of the trial, its administration, the role and responsibilities of each party, and expectations. Above all, there are measurements upon measurements upon measurements. In other words, it is as quantitative as possible.

The end result will either support or invalidate the premise on which the trial is being conducted.

In business we'd call this research. All business research is not conducted with the same level of discipline (measurement and protocol) as this trial-but business should be if it is to be valid. The point is that acquiring business knowledge through research should be managed with the same level of discipline and seriousness as research that involves life issues for, in fact, the life of the business is at stake.

Friday, April 17, 2009


I went with my wife to help her select a wig in anticipation of the effects of chemo. (She's cancer free now and on a clinical trial-more about clinicals in a later post.) Please understand that we were in a highly emotional state and could have been convinced to buy something that we might later regret. We were fortunate to have a recommendation. Ginny was an excellent sales person who guided us through the selection process. She gave us the time and guidance we needed. She also gave us hugs. She also told us of some competitors whose practices were cold and indifferent.

The end result was a wig that not only gave my wife confidence when in public, but also solicited some very nice compliments. "Your hair looks terrific" and "what great color" were some of comments, and these came from very observant individuals. (Collateral damage to her self image of her real hair styling and color is something we'll address at a later time.)

The point is that Ginny was more than a businesswoman. She was more than a salesperson. She was ministering to two vulnerable people.

I never expected it, and it made a big impression on me. It showed that, regardless of what we do, we can all be ministers. People are hurting, and some of the wealthiest are hurting the most. Yes, we can minister even in business.

Centers of Excellence

The words "Center of Excellence" speak volumes and provide an immediate sense of confidence. They also raise the bar on expectations.

I'll writing from a medical center of excellence and the delivery of services exceeds my already high expectations. The areas of evaluation include: medical competence, attention to detail, redundant services to avoid errors, the desire to answer questions regardless of how long the answer takes, a comfortable environment, and compassion. Even non-medical services receive high marks: clear, detailed answers to billing questions, concierge service, and a small kitchenette stocked with coffee "K" cups.

What does it take to create a business center of excellence?