Joe Marchese

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Nothing is accomplished until the plans and proposals degenerate into work

                         --   Peter Drucker


Two things motivate me to share the topic of this blog.  First, I’m in big-time summer kind of guy.  And second, the US Open Golf Championship will be held on Long Island in 2009.That reminds of the occasion a few years back when the Open was held in Southampton, on Long Island where I live.  At that time, my wife was working for a predecessor of Bank of America, which was one of the event's sponsors.  Since BofA has many bank branches on LI , it was a natural.  Like many other sponsors, the bank provided a hospitality tent to their top customers, giving them free tickets to the Open, free food, free booze, free transportation.... the whole works.  My wife had a role in setting up that event, and told me that there was not much demand to tickets on the first day of practice rounds, and that I was welcome to one.  I never miss an opportunity to spend more time on Long Island's East End, and the weather was going to be gorgeous for a boondoggle in the Hamptons, so what the hell.  We drove out on Sunday afternoon, stopped at the Shinnecock Hills Country Club, checked the progress in the hospitality area, then spent the night near Montauk.

After spending Monday morning on the beach doing nothing -- a task I am particularly well-suited to doing -- I joined my wife at the golf course just before noon.  The amount of work accomplished in the hospitality area between Sunday afternoon and midday Monday was unreal.  On Sunday, the place looked like a garbage dump, but on Monday it had been transformed into an oasis.  What had looked like a disaster less than a day before now appeared as a letter-perfect facility.  I walked the course for a while, and had a thoroughly wonderful day.  But everywhere I went, I was surprised and fascinated by the level of activity.  What struck me as being the most unexpected was the unbelievably high levels of service in everything taking place.

The volunteers who act as tournament marshals along the course were very efficient in controlling the gallery, but very friendly, informative, and courteous.  The crews preparing for the TV coverage were everywhere but never got in the way.  The golf pros, entertainers after all, really played to the crowds (a benefit unique to the practice rounds), but also worked very hard by playing a number of different shots on each hole, trying to see how to adapt their game for the difficult links-style course.  The US Golf Association staff ran around like lunatics attending to every little thing they came across.  The support for the sponsors in the hospitality area was at a frantic pace.

And then it occurred to me.  Despite the relative insignificance of a golf tournament in the cosmic order of things, these folks presented as fine an example of a service business as you could find.  They employed the back-to-basics techniques you would expect to find in any well-run company.  They always played it extremely close to the users of their services, even in those case where the ultimate consumer was not yet in the picture.  For example, the tireless catering staff was constantly asking the sponsors if everything was alright, were there any questions, did they want any changes, etc.

Yes, these people had a high service orientation, but what made it even more effective was plain, old-fashioned hustle.  Think of the possibilities of businesses that could be dramatically improved if every employee hustled all the time.  Think of mass transit.  Think  of McDonalds.  Think of lines at the motor vehicle department.  Think of the airlines.

Think of your organization.

Generally, I’m impressed with the energy level many people display, but we all know there are moments that beg for more hustle, just as there are times when we should re-charge our batteries.  When it comes to delivering value to customers, the high and mighty service quality principles don't amount to diddly if they don't, as Peter Drucker says, degenerate into work.  Those people who made the golf  tournament happen were having fun, but they were exhausted by the end of the day.  And that was Monday.  They had two more days of setup during the practice rounds before the curtain went up on the live rounds Thursday through Sunday.  Not to mention that the whole process is replayed week after week at different venues all over the US.

By now you probably think I have completely lost my mind, taking a perfectly good boondoggle day in the Hamptons and transforming it into a service blog.  But the nothing I did while on the beach could change the fact that I had to come back to work for my living, so I guess it just degenerated into work.