Service of What Were They Thinking II: Tour de France Spectators, Cross Training Flight Crews & Retail Missing its Target

July 10th, 2014

Categories: Retail, Self-Involvement, Training, Travel

tour de france 2014

This batch was far too easy to collect—a bad sign.


“‘The worst thing is when people have got their backs to the peloton taking selfies,’ he said.” The he is professional racing cyclist Geraint Thomas; they are British spectators at the Tour de France in the stretch between York and Sheffield. According to, Thomas continued, “‘I had a few of those and they don’t see us coming and are stood in the road and it is very dodgy.”

He “described the thousands of people attempting to take pictures of themselves as the peloton rode past as ‘the new pain in the arse’ for riders.”

Imagine being a cyclist who is derailed after all those years of training by bumping into a self-centered klutz taking photos of him/herself.

Train Crew to Move Air Passengers

airport checkinColleague David Reich boarded a flight from Austin to Dallas when passengers were asked to disembark while ground crew fixed a leak. He and many of those on board had a connection to catch. By the time he got out and saw one harried airline ticket agent and a daunting line of passengers looking to get out of Dodge…I mean Austin… he walked through the airport until he found an agent with no line.

He asked her why someone hadn’t assigned help for that agent in the boarding area outside the beached plane. Answer: Cutbacks. As airline management, wouldn’t you cross train flight crews so that while one helps passengers exit the plane the others might immediately pitch in to reroute them?

Lost in Transition

Paper napkins platesI scanned the aisles of my favorite discount store in search of the paper section that housed cards, wrapping, and party accessories until I found it. It had moved and the festive paper plates and napkins hadn’t journeyed with it. After an unsuccessful look in the sections housing food, cookware and tableware, I asked an associate hanging out in the paper area for help and she seemed so proud to say that she’d put them all in the checkout area. This bit of unrealistic creativity almost lost the place a large sale while gaining a frustrated customer.

Not on Target

Target foodTarget was such a fun place to shop—and then it wasn’t and its profits plummeted along with traffic and morale. Paul Xiobro and Serena Ng analyzed what happened in “Retailer Target Lost its Way Under Ousted CEO Gregg Steinhafel.” In digest form Steinhafel eliminated what made the company successful: He replaced creative leeway with “rigid performance metrics” and “mired [management] in a new thicket of bureaucracy.” He turned a company with hip image and cool products into a Wal*Mart wannabe.

They wrote that “‘the chain ‘lost a lot of what used to make it unique,’ says Barclays analyst Matthew McClintock. ‘There haven’t been exciting reasons to shop at Target in recent years.’”

In addition, according to the reporters, the store no longer took risks with new products—instead it increased food options–and rather than practicing its former visionary merchandising skills it sold the best shelf space to those who would pay most. It cut back worldwide trips by trendspotters and took years to implement essential initiatives such as store pickup of items ordered online. A test to add mannequins to the merchandising mix took months, wrote Xiobro and Ng.

Self-involved behavior and shortsighted, uncreative management decisions are formulas for a crash if not failure. What were they thinking?

Mr. Magoo 2

Tags: , , ,

6 Responses to “Service of What Were They Thinking II: Tour de France Spectators, Cross Training Flight Crews & Retail Missing its Target”

  1. EAM Said:

    After 25 years with the same auto insurance company, I finally switched. Insurance X company raised their rates again and when I had inquired about negotiating there was no room for it. I then signed up with Insurance Y company who was incredibly accommodating with my needs. I think Company X’s rates stand on its own, they don’t consider matching any other rates. Like a good neighbor but not always there. My parents also had the same insurance and when they had filed legitimate claims several years in a row on their home insurance, the company considered dropping them. These were not huge payouts and were a result of storms and other issues.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Insurance companies are in it to make lots of money, not to pay out so I am not surprised by what you write: Disgusted but not shocked because this is nothing new, it just seems to be getting worse. Upon reaching his 65th birthday a zillion years ago, my Dad was dropped by his auto insurance company. Why? Because he’d not had an accident after umpteen years and given his age, he was due. Thanks for the memories and big checks!

    And it’s not just about auto and home insurance. A friend was to take a medication for a serious condition that her insurance company won’t pay for. The cost of the required dose was upwards of $2,000 with a $600 co-pay. As it’s a new drug there is no generic version.

  3. JPM Said:

    You ask a good question.

    I have a very simple but deceptively complicated answer.

    I once worked for a company that hired a world famous management consulting firm which claimed that it could measure complex human performance mathematically, and use a computer to generate a hyper- efficient sales plan and enhanced profits. The result of our using their system was that we made stupid, nonsensical decisions, lost money and almost destroyed what had been an effective, experienced sales force.

    If you focus too narrowly on an immediate objective like making money now, not tomorrow, you’ll stop using your common sense and start doing stupid things like not getting out of the way of racing bicycles and not planning ahead on how to deal efficiently with travel glitches.

    I know that we are on the way there, but people haven’t become machines yet. Treat people like people again, they’ll start thinking like them again.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Political decisions are largely made as a result of polls which a candidate who is way ahead and then loses the race can tell you aren’t always accurate. When a voice on the phone asks a question the answer may be what the respondent thinks he/she is supposed to say. As respondents to online polls can also no doubt be traced, and given that many won’t subject themselves to them and still other demographics aren’t selected to take them, conclusions from these polls are also suspect. Think of all the decisions that are based on specious intel without a human to interpret and sort the “whaaaa?” from the “makes sense” or “is not good for customers, employees, cities or citizens.”

    And then there are examples of hidden agendas such as the horse and carriage in NYC issue that I’ve covered in a post. The Mayor wants them gone but not necessarily for the obvious reasons—the poor creatures. It’s because an important NYC real estate company is interested in the property that houses the carriages. In fact almost 70 percent of New Yorkers want to keep the horses according to polls. Lop off 20 percent to make up for inaccuracy and you still have half the city in which city management cares less what the public thinks.

  5. Lucrezia Said:

    A former boss once wondered aloud why most of his former A & B graded classmates seemed to descend into oblivion, while a healthy percentage of those who raked in the Cs and Ds became CEOs of huge corporations. Incompetence is apparently cherished by entities who have so far managed to stay clear of the consequences of their actions. Someone once called the US “a nation of sheep,” or words to that effect. Not too surprisingly, we continue to be fleeced.

    As to that boss? Trouble with him is that he was far too intelligent and popular for his superiors to stomach, so he got fired. Any questions?

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I remember at least one person who used to say that about the US and sheep–perhaps he didn’t invent the concept but I agree with the man or woman who did. Fashion was where I first recognized this when what I called the artichoke hairstyle was in fashion for women [a billion years ago]: So many looked pretty awful yet millions wore it. Leaping forward to today, I should walk around NYC with a giant mirror in my arms and flash it at those who are spilling out of their clothes or creating gargantuan ripples in and around their midriffs, amplified by clinging, tight clothes. The fashion yes: Right for them? No. Baaaaaaaaaaa.

Leave a Reply

Clicky Web Analytics