I enjoy fruitcake.  There…I said it.

Don’t get me wrong–I completely understand why people don’t like fruitcake.  Some hate the little jellied cherries, some dislike the nuts or raisins, or maybe just the combination of ingredients.  But I like fruitcake.

My mom used to make fruitcakes around the holidays–maybe that’s the connection.  For me, eating fruitcake reminds me of some great family holiday time, growing up in a large family such as mine.  It was something that happened in our house every year.  Over time perhaps, I came to recognize the fruitcake as just a part of the holiday festivities and something my mom did for us.  Even later, after I’d moved out, gotten married, and started my own family, mom would send me some of her fruitcake around the holidays.  No one would dare touch it–nor did they want to.  But no matter, I enjoyed it every time.  My brothers and sister never developed the same taste for fruitcake as I did.  So, it sort of became my thing.  Even my wife and kids, to this day, have no interest in the fruitcake.

The comedian Jim Gaffigan  incorporates fruitcake into part of his monologue….he talks about it, wondering to himself why it is so disliked…he muses that “fruit is good…cake is great….fruitcake = nasty crap”…

Truthfully, fruitcake can be an analogy for many things in life.  We all have stories, we all come from various walks of life, each with our own unique qualities.  Separately, we are all various “ingredients” if you will indulge my thought.  But together, we create something.  Putting together a great team of people is very similar to making a fruitcake.  And with the right combination of ingredients, something unique and yet wonderful can happen, in your home, your company, your team.

Yeah, I know, it’s not a really deep concept, but it works.  And besides, we’re in the holiday season–so please excuse the shallow nature of this short prose.  I hope you’ve had a great year in 2014, and here’s to an even better 2015.  Happy holidays, enjoy some fruitcake, and thank you for reading my posts!

What’s in the Box?

Question-Mark-out-of-Box-1024x1000How’s your OOBA these days?  “Good question…what is it?”  OOBA is an acronym for “out of box audit”.  It involves a final pass that checks for quality, all components required in the product are present, correct firmware is loaded (if this is part of the product in question), the product has been packaged correctly and everything is in place, accounted for, and ready to provide your customer the best possible experience upon receipt.  Generally, this FQA (Final Quality Audit) is owned by your Quality group, or by Operations, or perhaps even some combination of both teams.  The purpose of this exercise is to help insure that the product works correctly, looks great (not good–great), and everything necessary for a successful customer experience has been done.

People who work in Operations are familiar with this terminology, and probably more so for those who have worked in companies that produce consumer goods (products that ship to end users directly).  What is your customer going to receive?  That’s certainly one question you should be able to answer confidently.  An even better question might be–What will your customer think of your product?  What will they perceive about your company when they open the product?

Earlier in the year I wrote a small piece about quality, and more specifically, about ownership of quality.  The OOBA is one tool to measure quality internally, but more than that, it is one method to constantly keep your customer’s experience in view.   It’s not only about product quality, it’s one way in which the Operations team can contribute to the customer retention level of any organization.

We’ve all been there–we’ve been pleasantly surprised when we’ve ordered a product and it showed up, pristine in quality, ready to be used, delivered as expected.  We’ve also had those less than stellar experiences when a product arrives that isn’t up to our expectations, or the hype, or what was promised by the company.  Keep the OOBA in mind.  When was the last time you really looked at your product from your customer’s perspective?  This is something important that should be a part of every organization!