No Surprises.

No one likes surprises at work. We want to make plans, execute against them, and meet or exceed our customers’ expectations. Nowhere is this more true than in retail. The pace of change is faster than ever. Mistakes can be more costly. With all this change and risk, the ability to execute without surprises is tantamount to success.

Over the years, Sophelle has helped hundreds of leading retailers on thousands of projects. On strategy, selection, implementation, and support projects our clients have delighted their customers. Not by surprising them, but by consistently meeting or exceeding expectations.

Exceeding expectations isn’t a surprise. It’s great execution. No Surprises

Sophelle works with leading global brands who count on us to deliver, day in and day out. No exceptions. No surprises. We first developed our No Surprises approach for internal operations. Before joining Sophelle, Eric Johnson, our COO, had worked in Research & Engineering with Exxon after the Valdez incident. One surprise threatened the fifth largest company in the world. Operational discipline was everything at Exxon. Eric became our Czar of No Surprises and has carried the mantle ever since.

During a meeting with one of our CIO clients, I explained the details of our approach. She asked a number of probing questions to make sure that it was real, and not just sales-speak. After hearing me out she said, “That’s what I want! I want to promise my business users No Surprises. How do we get started?”

The truth was, we hadn’t thought of the approach as a service. (Boy, that seems dumb now.) We had no marketing material, just what we had used to communicate and execute with the internal Sophelle team.

Today, No Surprises is part of the Sophelle culture. It’s on the back of our business cards. It’s the most repeated phrase in the office. And it’s the foundation of every  project we run.

Sophelle’s No Surprises approach is built on three principles:
  • Shared expectations: Required to set proper direction. “Start with the end in mind” was Stephen Covey’s second habit.
  • Operational Discipline: Required to facilitate repeatable success. Success without discipline is luck.
  • Complete Transparency: Required to maintain trust and minimize the impact of inevitable events. Transparency is what prevents events from being surprises.

I’ll have more information and details in future posts. Please check back regularly and feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Contributed by Doug Weich