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Philip R. Nulman: Tales a Giant Can Teach

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On Store Culture: Tales a Giant Can Teach

Turn your back on what you’ve done and face the future.

BY PHILIP R. NULMAN

Published in the January 2012 issue.

Studying great companies provides an almost immediate understanding of some of the whys and hows they do so well. So, I decided to visit some friends at Microsoft.

What I discovered, is that there are many reasons this global leader has remained a fixture in the marketplace. My visit also uncovered a culture whose concept is transferrable to jewelers.

Begin by tearing apart your belief system. At Microsoft, every idea is acknowledged without judgment or criticism. One daily task is always omnipresent: Who else is out there, and what are they thinking?

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Being moderately obsessed with the jewelers surrounding your store can be a very good thing. Outperforming competitors in areas of selection, value, experience, guarantees, community- mindedness are all major components of a strong core approach to establishing your posture in the marketplace. So, begin each week by focusing on new products, new ways to solve problems and new ideas to make your store stand out.

When you hire smart people who think, you are using Microsoft’s model of separating those who actually think from those trained to perform tasks. Microsoft has no restrictions on dress, hours, style, comfort or creativity because it wants people to perform in new ways and to take control of their tasks with zeal.

Never make any individual feel as though a mistake could threaten his livelihood. Autocratic rule is self-defeating. Hire people from outside the industry who have diverse skill sets and are not set in their ways. 

At Microsoft, failure is expected. If employees don’t fail, they’re not taking enough risks. In some cases, failure from innovative thinking should be rewarded.

Even if they didn’t follow the rules, and they may not have proven the perfect outcome, they’re taking “ownership” of their tasks, which is critical to leadership.

You can, by simple revision of some existing behaviors, become the jeweler who always has something extra and continually stays ahead of the latest trends.

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Become the Microsoft of jewelry by turning your back on what you’ve done and facing the future. You’re not just selling jewelry, are you?

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