I’m always on the lookout for talented companies and I think I found one on my doorstep. The company’s name is Tesco and earlier this week I gave our Mind the Gap presentation at their marketing team away day.

I’m a fan of Tesco (and have written several blogs on the company see TPF has lift off and Tesco trains their staff in generational talk) mainly for one simple reason the customer service and experience I receive when shopping there. I love the fact that they have a stated policy of never having more than two people standing at the checkout. As soon as there is a third person, a new checkout is opened, and this policy works! From the Tesco Express around the corner from where I live, to their megastores I have seen it in action without fail. It is a simple policy but its execution is genius and it keeps me going back to Tesco because I hate wasting my time standing in lines, who doesn’t!

Recently I wrote an article called the Talent Reboot and argued that companies need to be focusing on creating talented companies (by creating talented tribes) rather focusing on individual talent (as banks do). It was therefore great to find in Tesco an example of a talented tribe in action. Carolyn Bradley , Tesco’s marketing director, did a great presentation using Tesco TV adverts (from as far back as the seventies) to bring to life the history of the Tesco brand. It was amazing to see the innovative initiatives and strategies that Tesco has launched since the early 1970’s to grow its market share to nearly twice that of it’s closest competitor. What was more impressive was that this growth has been achieved during at a time when Tesco’s competitors market share has remained relatively stagnant or even decreased. But it was by observing the marketing team in action at their away day and later at their office, that it became apparent that there is more to Tesco than innovative ideas, they are been building talented tribes.

The team spirit I observed at their away day was amongst the best that I have ever seen. I was privileged enough to be given a tour of their very unassuming head office and treated to lunch at the staff canteen (I had a very tasty Cumberland sausage and mash). I was able to see how each marketing team had decorated their cubicles with Christmas themes, building mock chimneys for Santa and using fake polystyrene snow. The finance team won the best and most imaginative design supporting the belief that within each accountant there is a creative marketer waiting to break free. The marketing team at Tesco is clearly talented and full of energy. What I observed at Tesco is very similar to what Zappos, America’s most successful online shoe retailer has achieved. Zappos is often used as a case study of a company that has created talented tribes. At Zappos teams dress up to celebrate events, decorate their team areas and are passionate about what they do – customer service.

What Tesco and Zappos appear to have in common are talented tribes and huge commercial success. They are clearly getting the ingredients right and I plan to follow their stories a lot closer.

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