How a Funny Name and Six Core Values Revolutionized Convenience

THE WAWA WAY

Win the Hearts of Your Customers

In August 2011, Philadelphia magazine described a burly, 300-pound, 24-year-old man named Jeremy Plauche, getting the logo of a convenience store called Wawa tattooed on his inner biceps. Plauche, according to the magazine, works night shifts for the rescue squad in Millville, NJ, but is originally from Louisiana. “I tried to explain to my friends there what Wawa was and what it means to people who live up here… and they kind of didn’t believe me,” Plauche tells the magazine. “Wawa is part of our culture. It’s part of our way of life.”

From the couples who marry at the Wawa where they met to the Facebook group People Who Miss Wawa How, consisting of former Wawa customers who have left the chain’s service area (Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and now Florida), Wawa is indeed a way of life for its fans. How does a regional convenience store elicit such devotion from its customers and even its employees (like those who kept a store on Long Beach Island open during much of Superstorm Sandy even though some had had their houses washed out to sea)? The history and principles of Wawa, as presented by former Wawa CEO Howard Stoeckel in a new book, The Wawa Way, can offer lessons for any business seeking to engender fanatic customer and employee loyalty.

Private and Shared Ownership

One key to Wawa’s success, according to Stoeckel, is its unique ownership structure. Nearly 40 percent of the company is owned by the Employee Stock Option Plan (ESOP), with the rest owned by Wood family members. The shared ownership with Wawa “associates” motivates all employees to make the stores a success, Stoeckel writes. Perhaps even more important, Wawa does not face the short-term pressures of a public company. “We’re not making decisions, as a lot of companies do, based on what Wall Street analysts or minority investors will think,” Stoeckel writes. “We’re making decisions based on the best long-term interests of the business.” One example are the concrete posts in front of every store to prevent customers parked in front of the store from accidentally plowing into the store (as happened a number of times). Deciding to put the posts in front of every single store “was hard to justify in terms of return on investment, but in terms of living our values and protecting people, it was the right thing to do.”

The Six Core Values

The true secret to Wawa’s success, however, is that it lives its six core values, Stoeckel writes. The ESOP and concrete barriers are just two examples of Wawa’s core value of “valuing people.” Stoeckel also recounts numerous stories of how associates “delight customers,” from bringing a Thanksgiving dinner to a wheelchair-bound customer who would be alone for the holiday, to lending a $200 coffee pot to a customer when the store ran out of coffee-to-go boxes (the customer cared for an invalid spouse and usually bought a coffee-to-go box every morning). The Wawa Way is also filled with examples of how the company follows its remaining four core values: “embrace change,” such as the decision to add fuel to its business model; “do things right,” “do the right thing,” and “have a passion for winning.”

Any company will have ups and downs, and Stoeckel is candid about some mistakes the company has made – including a poorly thought-out strategy for adding fuel to the mix in the 1980s and some questionable products. Wawa continues to excite the passion of its customers, however, because as it moves through different strategies and decisions, it continues to remain true to its core values and traditions. This is a manual on delighting customers.

The Third Metric to Redefining Success

THRIVE

Don’t Judge Yourself; Don’t Judge Others

“The architecture of how we live our lives is badly in need of renovation and repair,” writes Arianna Huffington, founder of the media company the Huffington Post. “What we really value is out of sync with how we live our lives.” The reason, she argues in her new book called Thrive, is that success has come to be defined by two things: money and power.

To achieve money and power, men and women are living unsustainable, high-stressed, non-stop lives that physically destroy their bodies, leave little time for joy and reflection, and culminate in the realization that acquiring money and power is not the fulfilling quest of a life well lived. As former Merrill Lynch managing director Roseann Palmieri explains, “I’m at the table. I’ve made it. I’ve networked, I’ve clawed, I’ve said ‘yes,’ I’ve said ‘no,’ I’ve put in all this time and effort and I was underwhelmed. What I was getting back was not acceptable to me.”

For Huffington, the current success metrics of money and power are only two legs of a three-legged stool. Without a “third metric” based on well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, our lives, like the defective stool, topple over, she writes. In the early pages of her book, she presents a range of evidence, from alarming health statistics to stories of highly “successful” yet unsatisfied people who left their careers, that proves the adverse impact on both men and women of today’s high-stress quest for money and power.

Huffington believes the path to the third metric will be especially blazed by the career women who find the current metrics of successful “not acceptable.” “If we’re going to redefine what success means,” she writes, “if we are going to include a Third Metric to success, beyond money and power, it’s going to be women who will lead the way – and men, freed of the notion that the only road to success includes taking the Heart Attack Highway to Stress City, will gratefully join both at work and at home.”

The Shimmer of Rain

Having made the case that a third metric of success is vital, Huffington then explores in four inspiring, information-packed chapters how to bring “well-being,” “wisdom,” “wonder” and “giving” back into our lives. Huffington – who recalls how her mother, who never went to college, “would still preside over long sessions in our small kitchen in Athens discussing the principles and teachings of Greek Philosophy to help guide my sister, Agapi, and me in our decisions and in our choices” – weaves ancient and modern philosophy, academic research, and stories and quotes of successful people, from the world-renowned to the ordinary ladder-climbers who realize that the view from the top is not enough to make the journey worthwhile.

The Experience of Wonder

The opening pages of her chapter on wonder are typical. Huffington begins with short anecdotes about experiencing a sense of wonder on a drive to an airport, as the falling rain “gave everything a beautiful, almost magical, shimmer.” At the airport, she hears everyone complaining about the rain: wonder is in the eye of the beholder. She offers a beautiful short poem on rain by Albert Huffstickler, then quickly moves the reader through discussions on the wonder of children (“Mommy, what makes it go?” one of her young daughters once asked as they watched the star-filled sky); the wonder at the root of spirituality, which is not religion; wonder as the connection between outer space and inner space; how photography interrupts wonder (“…by so-obsessively documenting our experiences, we never truly have them); the power of love, backed by a Harvard study; art museums as oases of wonder – all in the first six pages of a fascinating 45-page chapter.

The chapter ends, as with all her chapters, with three simple practices to help people live in the moment: when stressed, focus on the rising and falling of your breath for 10 seconds; pick an image that ignites joy in you, and go to it whenever you feel “contracted”; don’t judge yourself; don’t judge others; “then look at your life and the day ahead with newness and wonder.”

Thrive, as it should be, is a book to be savored. There is so much learning and wisdom in these pages that one might be tempted to take notes. But as with photography on a vacation, they would only interrupt the enjoyment of one of those books that everyone should have within reach at all times.

How Gamification Motivates People to Do Extraordinary Things

GAMIFY

Motivation for Gamification

Gamification describes the use of game mechanics and experience design – a story line, for instance – to digitally engage employees and customers, writes Gartner consultant Brian Burke in his gamification primer, Gamify.

As with many new technological trends in the workplace, gamification is often misunderstood or overhyped, Burke writes. Gamification does not mean turning work processes into a video game (giving a sales manager a virtual gun and turning individual salespeople into virtual targets does not motivate salespeople to be more competitive). Nor will a game turn a dreary job into a fun-filled, joyful exercise. What gamification can accomplish, he writes, is to motivate people to change their behaviors or to develop their skills, and can also drive innovation.

Three Elements of Motivation

Gamification works because it addresses the three elements of motivation:

Autonomy. Gamification allows people to opt in, then make their own choices as they proceed through the game.

Mastery. Everyone has a deep-seated desire to improve and make progress. Perhaps full mastery is not possible in gamification as in real life, but gamification provides the constant positive feedback that motivates people to keep trying harder.

Purpose. Gamification is different from traditional games because there is an overriding purpose. Unlike a game, which is simply created to entertain, gamification “engages players at an emotional level to help them achieve a goal that is meaningful to them,” Burke writes.

For example, Burke describes how a hospital for children developed a game app to encourage sick children to keep up their pain journals. These journals are important for doctors to know which treatments are working, but children, especially those having a bad day, are not always motivated to fill out the journal. With the iPhone “Pain Squad” app, children become members of a police force who progress through the ranks depending on how many days in a row they fill in their journals.

Three Audiences

Gamified solutions are usually targeted at one of three audiences: employees, customers and communities of interest (for example, ecologically-minded people who through Internet-based gamification are encouraged to recycle).

The Pain Squad example above illustrated how gamification was able to engage customers – in this case, the sick children – to change their behaviors. Barclaycards uses gamification to engage customers in driving innovation for their Barclaycard Ring credit card. This low-rate credit card is unique because it operates as a separate profit center, and “profits generated by the community are shared with the community,” Burke writes. Through status tiers (bronze, silver, gold, platinum and palladium) and badges, Barclayscard Ring members are pushed to participate in developing the community by suggesting or voting on ideas that would improve the product, or taking such actions as recruiting new members.

NTT Data uses its Ignite Leadership game to identify and develop leadership skills among their employees, many of whom are dispersed to various client sites, some of them for years and even decades. Under such circumstances, they lose their connection with the company. Ignite Leadership creates real-world-scenario questions and allows the player to choose among a multitude of options; there is no right answer. The training is structured as a journey, with points and badges awarded at different levels and a leaderboard that shows player rankings.

These are just three of Burke’s many examples as he illustrates the wide variety of situations in which gamification can be used. In the second half of the book, Burke offers a detailed, step-by-step process for gamification, starting with defining the business outcomes, target audiences, and player goals and moving on to such issues as the player engagement model (for example, is the game collaborative or competitive, emergent with an unknown outcome or scripted?).

In Gamify, Burke reveals the full complexity and potential of gamification but presents his material in a succinct, clearly organized manual that will motivate leaders to follow the example of the successful companies featured in the book.

Reinventing Organizations

REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

Go for the Teal

A recently hired financial analyst from Pakistan named Shazad Qasim once approached Dennis Bakke, the co-founder of global energy provider Applied Energy Services (AES), and said he was going to investigate opportunities for AES in his country. Bakke was skeptical, but the decision was up to the analyst: under Bakke, AES used the “advice process” for decision-making, which meant that superiors had to be asked for their advice, but the decision remained at the lower rungs of the organization. AES is one of the “Teal” companies featured in a new book called Reinventing Organizations by Belgian consultant Frederic Laloux.

As Laloux explains, researchers in history and developmental theory have created a general framework that describes how humans have evolved through history in leaps of human consciousness. In Reinventing Organizations, Laloux shows how we are on the cusp of the next stage in human consciousness. The Evolutionary-Teal stage (all stages have assigned colors) — will bring its own changes to our organizations. In exhaustive detail and using pioneer companies that have already moved into the next stage, Laloux describes the structures, practices and cultures of Teal organizations and how they will emerge.

With each leap or new paradigm shift in the consciousness underpinnings of society, there is a corresponding leap in how humans collaborate, Laloux writes. For example, the Impulsive-Red period in human development, which started with chiefdom-led tribes 10,000 years ago, represented organizations that were ruled by iron-fisted leaders controlling their people through fear.

The Conformist-Amber consciousness, which followed with the shift from chiefdom to states and civilizations — as in Mesopotamia in 4,000 BC — included a deeper awareness of other people’s feelings and perceptions, Laloux writes. Today’s Amber organizations, he writes, are those with stable hierarchies and processes focused on the long term — organizations such as governmental agencies, the military and public school systems.

The Achievement-Orange paradigm emerged in the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution, when the universe began to be viewed as a machine that could be investigated and explained. In organizations, innovation is a major goal. Multinational companies are usually Orange.

The more recent Pluralistic-Green paradigm is uneasy with power; in this stage of human consciousness, the idea is the destruction of hierarchies. Green organizations focus on empowerment and values-driven culture — companies such as Ben & Jerry’s and Southwest Airlines.

The Evolutionary-Teal stage leads to three organizational breakthroughs: self-management, operating on a basis of peer relationships rather than hierarchy; wholeness, which means the whole person and not just the professional self comes to the workplace; and evolutionary purpose, in essence, the organization itself having a direction and a reason for living.

Using 11 companies as examples, from a family-owned foundry in France to the iconoclastic Patagonia Company, Laloux explores how they operate through self-management structures and processes, strive for wholeness through their general practices and HR processes, and listen to their evolutionary purpose. This practical book will help leaders dissect their organization and find the opportunity to bring their company into the new Teal paradigm.

The Hurdles for Globalization

THE ROAD TO GLOBAL PROSPERITY

Michael Mandelbaum is an unequivocal supporter of globalization, and in his latest book, The Road to Global Prosperity, he lays out both the advantages and challenges that globalization faces in the coming years.

A leading authority on international affairs, Mandelbaum does not deny that globalization, like any productive economic change, causes some people to be worse off than they were before, at least in one aspect of their lives; but even for them, Mandelbaum notes, globalization has advantages. For example, globalization gives all consumers more product and service choices and better prices.

The political problem, writes Mandelbaum, is that the advantages of globalization are far more long term and subtle than the immediate and wrenching negative consequences. Product choices and better prices evolve over time; the job losses, however, are immediate and unambiguous. And because of the immediacy of the pain, it is the minority of globalization losers, not the majority of winners, who have a greater motivation to try to influence policy. That is why, despite the advantage for the majority, globalization faces an uphill battle in democracies.

In four brilliant chapters, Mandelbaum lays out the political hurdles that globalization must and, he believes, will overcome. In the first chapter he tackles the question of whether the world will continue to “be stable and peaceful enough to permit trade, investment and immigration on a large scale?” Mandelbaum compares global stability and peace to the roof of a house. Without a roof, the residents of that house would spend all their time battling the elements, severely limiting their ability to function productively. National economies also need a roof of security to function effectively, and for many years, he writes, that roof was provided by American military power. Today, however, there are two other sources of security that have made the roof sturdier, according to Mandelbaum: 1) the legitimacy of globalization, or more specifically of market capitalism and cross-border economic transactions, and 2) the new illegitimacy of war.

The second political challenge is the political backlash against cross-border flows. A global economy depends on the cross-border flow of goods, money and people. Unfortunately, as described above, the creative destruction of such a flow — that is, the difficult negative consequences required for a longer-term positive result — can motivate a minority of people to shut the gates. Mandelbaum believes, however, that because globalization makes all countries engaged in it richer, the gates will remain open at least to trade and investment.

The third political challenge comes in the form of global financial crises, such as the 2008 Great Recession in the United States. Mandelbaum turns again to a metaphor as he compares the flow of money across borders as having the attributes of a river: a life-sustaining force when under control, it can lead to widespread destruction when it overflows its banks and floods the land or streets around it. Financial bubbles are the equivalent of floods, and the most recent bubble, combined with the Euro crisis, has both the United States and Europe still trying to recover. Reducing a repeat of shocks in the future is vital to long-term economic growth, Mandelbaum writes.

Finally, he examines the challenges facing the BRICs — Brazil, Russia, India and China. Representing the largest and most powerful countries in four crucial regions of the planet and a total population of 3 billion people, the continued growth of the BRICs’ economies is vital to future prosperity. The Road to Global Prosperity is a tour de force of economic writing: at once brief and comprehensive, it offers an insightful framework that allows readers to grasp the complex political forces that may batter but not sink the global economy.