Raving Fans in Every Seat (of the Bus)

Raving Fans book Ken BlanchardGreat Leadership Lessons, Note 13

Raving Fans!
You have probably heard that phrase before. It is the title of a very good book on customer service written by Ken Blanchard. If you haven't read it - you need to.

Raving Fans!
The idea is a creative way of understanding the kinds of customers, clients, consumers, congregants (or any other word you want to use for your Target Audience) you want to have. You don't just want customers. You don't just want customers who are fans of what you offer. You WANT customers who are RAVING FANS of what you offer. You Want people who so love what you offer they can't help telling others about your product, service, group, organization. That is what Raving Fans do - they spread the word and they get you more fans. Once you have the fans - it is your job to turn them into Raving Fans.

Raving Fans!
I want to use this idea is a Very Different Way . . . and a way I believe that is vital. 
I cannot overemphasize the importance of what I say next!

Raving Fans!
It will be one of your GREATEST LEADERSHIP MISTAKES if you have people as a part of your organization who are not Raving Fans of your organization. If you have employees who do not simply LOVE your organization and what the organization stands for - you are in trouble. If you have co-workers who have not bought in to the mission and values (The Core) of your organization - you have the wrong people.

Raving Fans!
In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about getting the right people in the right seats on the bus (the team or the organization). While we will look at this theme in much more detail later in this series, I want to borrow that idea and apply it to a concept Collins talks about in Built to Last.

Every now and then, Collins uses a metaphor or an image that is not the best image to use. He is trying to be creative, but he falls short and occasionally hurts his case. One of the times when Collins hurts his case is in Built to Last when he talks about one of the tangible mechanisms by which an organization sustains greatness. Collins talks about creating "cult-like culture in your organization. He then goes on to stress he does not like cults and he is not talking about creating a cult, rather - creating a cult-like culture. Uggh. Let's just drop that image completely. I fully understand what Collins is saying and what he wants to accomplish, but I want to use Blanchard's language of Raving Fans and apply it to the CULTURE of the organization. 

raving fans as employees in the organization***************
Here is a short story of having employees who are Raving Fans.

I have a friend who is an entrepreneur. He is also a teacher, preacher, missional servant, creative, cross-cultural worker and a generally "really smart" person. And he loves coffee. I mean he really loves coffee. He studies coffee and everything about coffee. It is a treat just to listen and learn about coffee. My friend is highly opinionated about coffee. I love it. I expect that. He is a passionary about coffee and creating a coffee shop experience that goes along with drinking and enjoying superb coffee. He wants his customers to enjoy great coffee in the context of books, music, art, stimulating conversation, friendship and relaxation. 

A few weeks ago, when I was doing a seminar where my friend lives, we had some time together. He told me about his two main baristas. Well, he just didn't talk about them. He glowed about them. He raved about them. He expressed the deepest respect and trust for those colleagues as you could imagine. Heck, let's just be honest - he bragged on those two guys. 

He described them as outstanding in their field. So outstanding that in city wide competitions, they have consistently taken the top two spots in contests. Now, here is what is GREAT. These two barista have been sought out from other coffee shops. They have been offered more money from other places than what my friend can pay. But they are still with my friend. Why?

Because they are Raving Fans of THEIR coffee shop. They love the vision and mission. They love the values. They love the dream. They love the product. They love what they do, where they do it, why they do it and the results they see.

Therefore, they are steadfastly loyal, incredibly hard workers, highly motivated to become every more proficient in their craft . . . and to do everything they can for THEIR coffee shop to flourish.


That is what I am talking about. Co-workers as Raving Fans. When you have people like this - you are positioned to experience greatness as an organization. Without them - you are in trouble.

What is of great concern is how many organizations have people on the bus who are not Raving Fans. More about that and what to do about it tomorrow.

Brian K. Rice
Leadership ConneXtions International


LCI - Helping You Turn Co-workers Into Raving Fans