Saturday, April 10, 2010

E Pluribus Kinko's

I am reading a lot of great books lately. One of them is E Pluribus Kinko's - A Story of Business, Democracy, and Freaky Smart People by Dean Zatkowsky. E Pluribus Unum means one out of many.

What is interesting about the book is Dean is not the founder or president or even an owner of one of the stores. He was an employee in one of the stores who eventually worked his way into 2% ownership.

Kinko's is an amazing success story. They grew to almost a billion dollar business selling 10 cent items. And then they sold out to FedEx.

The book has many business "lessons". Like being open 24 hours dramatically increased business during the day. I know I may have even become a customer that way. I joined a health club that is open 24 hours although I have never been there after midnight or before 5. I just like the idea of it being accessible.

Kinko's hired Dean for "attitude and creativity" because skills can be taught. I agree with this (and would possibly add "intelligence" to the list).

There is a great chapter on Theory X vs Theory Why that should be required reading for leaders and HR people. Bottom line - self motivated people excel more than over controlled autocratically lead people.

There is a section on Kinko's philosophy statement and debate around it. At Kinko's it really did seem to make a difference. "Culture is built on stories".

Kinko's sounded like a lot of fun in the days Dean was there. It helps me realize that fun is one of the primary motivators for people. Keep a workplace fun and keep people and increase productivity, quality and even get more customers. The fun translated to a bit of humor in the book (like the woman who insisted the copier changed her paper and added spelling mistakes).

He told of people who cared about their customers. No wonder it was a success.

One concept raise was "Triorities" - the 3 things you need to do first. Sounds funny or crazy but I think it might be a great concept. The problem with priorities is they can overwhelm.

Dean is honest which adds to the poignancy of the book. He mentioned kicking a drug habit while working at Kinko's. And admitted to complaining daily about Kinko's while working there (absence does tend to make us nostalgic - we need to appreciate more the "good" we have today)

Dean is a writer so the book is well written (unlike some business books that are written by good business people who are do not write quite as well).


At 7:25 PM, Anonymous Dean Zatkowsky said...

Thanks for the nice review. I want to clarify that I did not own a 2% stake in the company, but in a single store. I did have a long, challenging career and - to the point of the book - always FELT like an owner of the company. Thanks again, Z

At 8:37 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Great post Jim. I especially liked the point about Kinko's being open 24 hours. I love businesses who do that and use Kinko's often. The point about fun in the workplace also resonated. Work should be fun--if you can help people get into the positions where they are passionate about and inspired by their work, you'll have a great team.


Post a Comment

<< Home