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Cultures by Design: Getting to the Details

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As we work toward designing results-conducive cultures, consider two laws of the mind:

(1) The mind does not solve general problems;

(2) The mind does not achieve vague or general goals.


When it comes to behavior, specificity rules. Teams who define their standards and mutual expectations in specific terms set themselves apart, enabling themselves to convert good intentions into great performance.

Take, as example, the Ritz-Carlton Credo—a culture-defining document by one of the icons of world-class service in the hospitality industry. Part of the Credo states:

We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed yet refined ambience.

Nothing terribly revolutionary or new there. Hundreds of organizations have similar verbiage in their mission and values statements. The difference comes from Ritz-Carlton’s unwillingness to leave the matter in such broad sweeping terms. Notice what follows:


1) A warm and sincere greeting. Use the guest name, if and when possible.

2) Anticipation and compliance with guest needs.

3) Fond farewell. Give them a warm good-bye and use their names, if and when possible.


As specificity grows the ability to see what “the finest personal service” looks like increases, as does each person’s ability to personify that service.

Are we there yet? Not quite. An even clearer picture grows by defining more specifics in what Ritz-Carlton calls its “Basics,” some of which are:

· Any employee who receives a customer complaint “owns” the complaint.

· Instant guest pacification will be ensured by all. React quickly to correct the problem immediately. Follow-up with a telephone call within twenty minutes to verify the problem has been resolved to the customer’s satisfaction. Do everything possible to never lose a guest.

· “Smile – We are on stage.” Always maintain positive eye contact. Use the proper vocabulary with our guests, words like, “Good Morning,” “Certainly,” “I’ll be glad to,” and “My pleasure”.

· Escort guests rather than pointing out directions to another area of the Hotel.

As is the case with so many successful outcomes, the difference is made in attention to detail.

What specifics have you implemented to strengthen your team’s culture?

Your thoughts about these thoughts….

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