Cultural confusion, pruddy in pink, a surprise cyborg, PCA and the Tesco Townhall.

Cultural confusion. One man’s (or woman’s) innocent palm gesture is another man’s spark for full blown inter-generational full on vendetta with guns and knives. I put a picture of a palm in a presentation when Markos was in the audience and all I can say is that I am glad my family doesn’t live in Crete. Don’t ever palm him! I also found out last week that there is another European country that I would be ill advised to visit any time soon. Yes, I managed to upset the Dutch! How on earth did I manage to upset the denizens of this flat liberal place? Well I stood on stage at the CIO Townhall, and among other things I talked about a strategy for disease of the venereal type. Please be aware that in Dutch Land SOA means STD.

I am worried about Stephan I really am. Over the last few weeks he has variously turned up to the office dressed as a Gigolo and a man with Samurai hair. Well this weekend he decided to model his look on a resting Drag Queen hoodie, sporting a scarf my six year old daughter would be delighted to own. See….


We are a Digital bank. We keep telling ourselves this. Well I think I have found evidence that we are even more advanced than we think we are. Ken Aitken has turned himself into a cyborg. I heard him chatting to Andy R in bleeps and ticks ( I think it was binary) and then he went and sat in a meeting and sat there impassively for the whole two hours. I didn’t even hear him breath, look…


PCA went in and all of us who were in the office over the weekend were really bored. Which was really good. The whole delivery went without a hitch which I am hoping is an omen for when we turn it on for customers. I would like to thank Mark, Tony, Jim, Gary, Keith, Douglas, Paul, Fraser, Samrat, Pavani, Robert (with a P), Scott, Stefan, Martin once again. 

My write up from the Tesco Townhall on Friday 15th May. 

Firstly, Scotland contributes a lot to the wider group with 224 stores generating £3.6BN in sales and being the home of Dobbies and the Bank. 

In Philip Clarke’s address when he mentioned the bank, he used the facts that we have 7 million active products and that PCA is on track to illustrate our success. He also gave his view on why Tesco has a bank. To him it is simply about building loyalty. 

His specific priorities for this year are

1. Continuing to invest in a strong uk business
2. Establishing multichannel leadership – customers should be able to shop however they want, whenever they want, it needs to be seamless. 
3. Pursuing disciplined international growth

The overarching vision is for us to be ‘Loved by our Customers’. It is clearly acknowledged that we aren’t and the focus on multichannel is a recognition that it doesn’t work very well today, as I am sure anybody who has taken one of our customer journeys will testify. He also spoke about the need to stop indiscriminate promotions, for example, the fuel save promotion, as this doesn’t specifically change the behaviour of customers whose behaviour we want to change. Why would we give this value to a customer who already shops with us and won’t change their spending as a result? To me, this combined with the need to lead in multichannel, points to a significant investment in Tesco IT. 

He also spoke about consumers being under pressure with some pretty stark statistics. The average family in 2009 had £523 per week to cover all their living costs, this had by 2013 dropped to £483 and their level of disposable income isn’t going to recover to 2008 levels until 2018. 

To win he asked that we

– Relentlessly focussed on customers
– Invested in our colleagues
– Provided leadership to the wider team. There was a lot of focus in the session on devolved leadership and the need for us to empower our people. 

Chris Bush stood up after Phil Clarke and declared that there has been more change in the last 2 years than in the previous 10 (it was also mentioned that 160 of the top 300 managers in Tesco had changed recently).  He talked about added value products and services and specifically mentioned Hudl 2, PCA and Wallet! 

Then he played a video that highlighted the embarrassing lack of cohesion in the Tesco service offering across both Online and Stores. He admitted that this was a major problem and saw us using Clubcard as the common currency across all Tesco touch points to stitch everything together. To help this they plan to launch Digital Clubcard by the end of this year. 

He urged us to 

– Think multi channel
– Put the customer first in everything we do
– Mark sure we  support our teams so they can make brilliant little differences every day
– Make sure we celebrate success both large and small

He communicated the Tesco commitments as being

– Ensuring everyone in store had uniforms they could be proud of
– Improve colleague catering
– Clubcard – refresh of and updating the Privilege card
– Yammer for everyone
– Better communication
– More recognition – refresh of value awards
– More training with a particularly focus on multi channel
– An improved careers website

Finally he urged us to lead with purpose not task. 

In the Q&A a couple of interesting points came out. The Android phone will have fewer features than top of the range Android and iOS devices but will be 1/3 of the price of a top of the range device. Philip Clarke also promised that within 3 years all Online orders will come with grocery home shopping at the time of the customers choosing. A really tall order, I think.

In summary for me the key themes that came out today were

– More devolved leadership, coupled with empowerment and better communication across as well as up and down. We cannot rely just on top down management, as this robs us of situational leadership
– The real need for dramatic change across the group
– Focussing on what matters to customers
– Approaching everything with the purpose at the forefront not the task(s). Something I personally think the bank really needs to address. 
– It has to all work together for the customer. 


Ivan ‘Zero Defects’ Corner. Another strident entry from Ivan. I like the ‘jurassic’ reference, I can see me nicking this for a presentation. 

Its easy to do the “agile” thing from a code development point of view but its much more difficult to do the “agile” thing from a whole team point of view (everybody involved in delivery).
 One of the main areas where the interface between the worlds of business, development and release have a conflict is the difference between Iterative and Incremental. Understanding these can make the difference between getting product out the door early, getting fast feedback from the people who count (not us!) and doing this again and again OR waiting until everything is scoped, built once, the latency between idea and reality is ‘Jurassic’,  and the risk of rework is large…
Remember at the end of a sprint the product is potentially shippable, we are nowhere near that at present.

At the CIO Townhall I spoke about the threat from Facebook. Here is another upstart coming to steal our lunch.

Is the mobile business about to be disrupted in a really big way? I know for a fact that Google invests more in its infrastructure than O2 does on an annual basis.

Iain M knows a lot. Here is another great resource he has pointed in my direction.
As a cyclist I think this makes sense. Feel free to disagree

Have a great long weekend everybody. See you all on Tuesday. 


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