Thursday, March 13, 2014

Coffee Shops, Premiers and Ticked Off Customers

Customer Care: If we really cared for the customer, we'd send them somewhere better. – Despair.Com

Apathy: If we don't take care of the customer, maybe they'll stop bugging us. – Despair.Com

For the last year or so, I have been struggling with a particular coffee shop whose teas were something I’ve really come to enjoy.

Unfortunately for that coffee shop, they’ve been struggling with serious quality issues.  While the corporate people I have been speaking to are very passionate about quality and are doing the best they can, I just had one too many incidents with dead flies (hundreds), dead fish, food that had gone off (are muffins really supposed to smell like rotten eggs) and staff that forget that a welcoming smile makes all the difference instead of appearing to be put out when a customer interrupts their newspaper reading.

In fairness to the fine corporate folks, the privately owned coffee shop skated just under the guidelines of what would have enabled them to take the coffee shop from the owner and so the situation remained for some time.  While it is likely that corporate could have taken action if they really wanted to, they played it safe and will now pay the price for it.

Now the owner is leaving but it doesn’t matter – the damage to the brand is complete and while the owner will move on to create success or destruction elsewhere, the brand will remain tarnished in the local area and will need some time and investment to repair.

In fact, when I see the logo, I see dead flies and fish on it.  Ahhhhh the persistence of memory when it comes to branding – Salvador Dali knew what he was doing when he painted this:

Persistence of Memory

Meanwhile in the Alberta Legislature

The ongoing distraction in the Alberta Legislature regarding personal use of government aircraft by the Premier, allegations that caucus meetings often turn into “my way or the highway” sessions, lousy communication execution and other concerns have me worried about the brand being promoted from Edmonton.

When I think of the Alberta Government these days, I have a thought that keeps coming to mind that is best described by this poster:


Now the truth is that I don’t believe that elitism is the prevailing thought or belief amongst the many elected officials who work tirelessly in the Alberta Legislature.

However, the message that is being sent out speaks to the complete opposite, whether in the stand that the Premier has taken regarding use of government resources or in the bullying, intimidating, “I’m untouchable” style adopted by some of her communications staff.

And speaking of persistence of memory, when I hear warnings from the Alberta Motor Association about wide loads travelling on Highway 63 between Edmonton and Fort McMurray, I can’t help but think that maybe the Premier’s ego is travelling up the highway but then I’m reminded that she prefers to fly.

The Bottom Line

As in any organization, the attitude projected from a government to its partners and customers (i.e. voters) is often a reflection of the attitude embraced and projected from a single person - its leader (in this case, the Premier).

And just like the coffee shop corporate folks, I wonder how long Alberta Progressive Conservative “corporate” is willing to wait until their brand is severely tarnished or destroyed by the actions of this one person. 

The coffee shop corporate folks waited until the rogue owner damaged the brand and moved on and now they are left to repair the damage.

The question for the PC Party of Alberta is this:

Is the PC Party of Alberta willing to wait too long also, creating a situation of “too little too late” before they take action or will they do what’s right for everyone they serve?

I guess it comes down to how much they care about their brand and their “customers”, doesn’t it?

In service and servanthood,


PS This scenario presents an interesting dilemma.  A weak or crippled leader is something that an organization would ordinarily seek to rid itself of.  However, being this close to a general election and with so little time having passed since the last PC Party leadership race, changing the leader creates a potential risk for the PC Party while retaining the leader also poses a risk.

Meanwhile, most opposition parties would want such a weak leader to remain, since they would be an easier opponent to face in a general election.

So one ends up with the intriguing irony of a PC Party unwilling to change its leader even though it may wish to and an Official Opposition that seeks to disparage its opponent but not too much for fear that they will force a leadership change and possibly create a stronger opponent in the process.

It is the ultimate game of chess.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if the people of the Province of Alberta are winning as a result.

As for the PC Party, standing still and taking no action is as risky as taking action with the hope of future success.

I think that standing still is actually more risky and plays into the strategy of the Official Opposition.

What do you think?

Addendum – March 15, 2014 – Tensions Erupt

As reports of altercations between MLAs at an Edmonton bar are revealed (Calgary Herald: Political tensions erupt between MLAs at downtown Edmonton bar) and news of the sudden departure of interim PC Party ED Kelley Charlebois is announced (Calgary Herald: Redford faces showdown with party directors), we see the unfortunate tension that is created when leadership qualities are lacking and are not addressed.

When a leader is considered too heavy-handed, too confrontational or too non-collaborative, pressure cracks develop within what ordinarily should be a cohesive team.  If the leadership concerns are not addressed, the cracks threaten to tear a team apart, a philosophy that is not new and novel nor is it limited to politics.

It is true in Life.

What happens next is anybody’s guess but I wonder if we are witnessing a pivotal moment in Alberta politics that others will look back upon and point to as the moment when Alberta politics and the condition of the Province of Alberta got better …. or worse.

Time will tell.

“Beware the Ides of March” – the timing seems almost ironic, doesn’t it?


  1. The provincial "Game of Thrones" with all the same players... even a dragon.

    1. Maybe that's why I like the music shown on the live stream of the Legislature sessions ... it reminds me of something along those lines. :-)

  2. It strikes me that each PC leader is serving a shorter and shorter tenure than the previous (Redford < Stelmach < Klein < Lougheed - I include Getty in Lougheed's reign). At this rate, they may want to elect two leaders at the next convention when they know they are not likely to survive a four year term.

    1. Intriguing ... sort of like a VP ... Vice Premier (not to be confused with the Deputy Premier). :-)