PHB edits the HBR

12 04 2010

In what can only be described as a courageous decision, HBR have apparently appointed Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss as their new online editor. How else to explain April 12th’s Management Tip of the Day just received by email. And I quote:

“Turn a Flaw into a Distinguishing Feature”

“A hotel with no AC, mosquito-filled rooms, and no room service might appear to be flawed – unless the hotel is an eco-tourism destination. Then those flaws become part of the “eco” experience…”

(one can almost hear the drum roll and see the jazz hands as the d-list comic delivers his punchline… “ta-da!”)

I do of course understand the fact that HBR are simply re-re-re-cycling an idea they have published many times before (at its best in an article some years ago on “value curves” that analysed hotel chain Formule 1’s success in identifying what really mattered to its customers).

My objections however are twofold. The minor one is that far too many businesses knowingly deliver deeply flawed products and services; encouraging them to be proud of this, as the framing of this “Tip” unwittingly does, is offensive. The next time you complain about something, customer service will tell you the fault is yours for being the wrong kind of customer (i.e. one who doesn’t value the opportunity presented by the flaw).

My second objection is a little more fundamental. How sheltered an existence do the author and editor lead, not to know what a “mosquito-filled room” means for most of the world’s population (and for them, should they indulge in a little “eco-tourism” of this kind)? I suggest they might want to peruse http://www.mosquito.org/mosquito-information/mosquito-borne.aspx and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malaria – if indeed they think they should take seriously information and advice delivered over the internet…

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