TAG Consulting

The Co-Authors Go To Prison (Part 2)


September 29, 2015

It was too late to turn back. We walked  into the heart  of Solano Prison and our worlds changed forever.

As we interacted with the men David was  influencing we saw that they had internalized the principles of  our book like no one else we had ever met.

These were former gang members – violent criminals in many cases –  people who had been excluded from society.

And they were wise beyond belief. They brought tattered copies of our book to the meetings we attended, quoting passages and applying them to their lives and experiences.

They talked about their hopes for rejoining society – their hopes and fears.  They were determined that this time they would know how to head off the sorts of conflicts that had landed them in Solano.

They GOT it and, as the day transpired, they became our teachers.

Jim and Todd got to leave the prison that day, leaving new found friends behind. However, the lessons learned in that brief time behind prison walls lasted and led to the creation of this book…

Nordstrom or Costco – What Is A Healthy Culture?


September 29, 2015

In our book, the main character –  a chef named Gage Fabre – is famous because of his mole sauce. His delicious creation is a fusion of the Southwestern influences of his childhood along with French culinary techniques and Latin American influences.

Culture works like these influences—the often unseen yet all-important forces that make a pedestrian dish something worthy of being called a “secret sauce.”

Here’s our key question: if an effective leader develops and maintains a healthy culture, and a healthy culture helps lead to success, what exactly IS a healthy culture?

Walk into Nordstrom’s, and you experience something. Immaculate surroundings, tasteful yet stylish clothing displayed perfectly, perhaps a skilled pianist playing at just the right volume to enhance the shopping experience while not drowning out conversation.  Nordstrom’s customer service is legendary, its environment is understated elegance, and its prices . . . well, pricey.

Walk into Costco, and you experience something else entirely. You feel as if you have stepped into an airplane hangar as you survey row after long row of plain shelves and fixtures bolted to the concrete floor. There is a bewildering array of merchandise, from ice scrapers to industrial vacuum cleaners, to plastic vats of Jolly Rancher candy, to pots and pans, to a surprisingly intelligent wine selection.

There is no piano player at Costco, no understated elegance, nothing that Nordstrom has. But there is one big thing that Nordstrom does NOT have—amazingly low prices!

Nordstrom and Costco are both retail operations  but their cultures could not be more different. Nordstrom is all about fine goods presented by way of exemplary customer service in a soothing and classy environment. Costco is all about discount prices on middle-of-the-road goods presented in an industrial warehouse the size of several football fields.

Both companies are wildly successful, in spite of their very different cultures.

Costco is proud that its culture is about being a high volume, low-priced warehouse where the customer basically serves herself. Nordstrom prides itself in catering to the customer’s every whim. But behind the scenes, both companies go out of their way to take care of their employees, understanding that employee retention is critical to the bottom line.

You see, there is not one right or wrong organizational culture. The only questions are whether the culture you have is the right one for you, and whether it is a healthy culture.

What do you think? Is your organizational culture healthy? How do you know?

It All Starts With Culture (But It Doesn’t End There)


September 22, 2015

We believe deeply that culture is important in building healthy and thriving organizations.

And we believe that the preoccupation of every leader should be creating and sustaining a healthy and vibrant culture.

But culture is not the Secret Sauce that makes for truly great organizations.

Together we share more than a half century of consulting with some of our nation’s greatest public and private organizations and some of our most critical government agencies. We’ve made it a life long habit to study what makes organizations and the leaders who helm them great. We want to know what separates good organizations from good-enough organizations and what separates great organizations from them both.

To do so, we know that our own experience is not enough. We have endeavored to combine experience with empirical research and the resultant data.

The result of our life long study and of the objective results led us to the concept of The Secret Sauce and our book.

While culture may not be the Secret Sauce it is one the indispensable ingredients of the sauce and we begin our time together on this blog by defining a healthy culture.

Thanks for joining us!

The CoAuthors Go To Prison (Part One)


September 16, 2015

Two of the coauthors, Jim and Todd, were once in prison together.

But only for a day.

Several years ago, we spent the day in Solano California State Prison in Vacaville, California visiting a friend, David, who had been influenced by an earlier book we had written about how to thrive in – not just survive – conflict.

David, now integrated into society outside prison walls, was an inmate and, at the time, was leading classes for other inmates on the topic of conflict resolution, largely based on our book.

He had invited us there to meet with some of the hundreds of students he had led in exploring the principles of peace-making.

On the appointed day we went to the prison, passed through a gauntlet of metal detectors, and received our plastic whistles.

“Plastic whistles?” we asked.

“Yes” said the corrections officer with a smile. “In the event you get into a hostage situation, California state law says we can’t negotiate for your release. If you sense trouble, blow your whistle as loudly as you can and hopefully an officer can get to you before things escalate”.

We looked at each other…..