HR Needs to Do One Thing – And Nothing Else

Paul Hebert Audacious Ideas, Innovation

I subscribe to a newsletter called “Now I Know.” Every weekday the author tells a story about a little known and underappreciated product or service, or recounts how something came to be that most of us would find interesting. Things like “How Much is a Buttload, Exactly?” Or, “This Is The Poem That Never Ends. It Just Goes On And On, My Friends.” Those are clickable to the max. And interesting. Go click through but come back. Subscribe – it’s worth it. 

But the reason I bring this up is on Monday March 9, 2020 the post was “The Snack You Had to Commit a Crime to Try.” It is a story about the snack brand “The Whole Shabang” that is sold to the correctional market. Yes. Prisons. From that article:

They’re made by the Keefe Group, which per its website is “the nation’s leading supplier of food products, personal care products, electronics, clothing, technology, telecommunications and software solutions to the correctional market.” That is, among other things, they provide junk food to prison commissaries — and not your corner market.

And the responses from inmates is over the top. From the same newsletter:

Apparently, they’re incredible:

      • One inmate told NBC News that “The Whole Shabangs are a ray of sunlight in the very cloudy and drab existence that is prison.”
      • A former inmate joked (one hopes!) on Facebook, saying “why did I have to go to jail to experience the best chips ever made???? Well…. back to jail it is.”
      • Another posted to Facebook that although she “won’t do time again” to get the chips, she hopes to find someone on the inside who can send her some: “[I’ll] find out who’s about to get out and send some money so they can bring me at least 10 bags of them. They are delicious.”

First of all, the fact that there is a company that caters pretty much to the correctional system is interesting in and of itself. But more importantly in my mind, when the author highlights how inmates responded to the chips I started thinking if Shabang can make prisoners feel this way in prison – maybe HR could learn a lesson.

Maybe One Thing is All You Need

Maybe HR should focus on one thing. Or one category of things that help separate and differentiate their employee population from other companies. In other words, stop worrying about ALL the things HR touches being best – and focus on one thing to be the ABSOLUTE best at. 

Like Shabang. Their product actually impacts PRISONERS in a positive way. Think about your work environment. What can you do to generate the same kind of uplifting commentary as Shabang does?

This isn’t just about having a cool new tech toy. It’s about having as Curly said in City Slickers – that “one thing.” (NSFW word in video – some email subscribers may need to click through to see video below.)

What is your one thing? For Zappos, it is customer service. Sure they do other stuff well, but their ONE THING was letting customer service actually service customers instead of servicing company statistics.

Chewy dog products? Their one thing is if you have a return, in most cases they credit you and tell you to take the product to a pet shelter or some other pet-friendly business to pay it forward. That is their one thing.

What is your one thing? That’s for you to figure out. 

But here’s a start… ask yourself – “How can I Shabang my company?”