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My Blog

October 2010

Mystery, Inc. org. chart

Have you ever wondered what the deal is with Mystery Inc.?  Perhaps I’m alone here, but I just have to know more about those crazy kids and that darned dog.  They are so good at solving mysteries, that they must demand top dollar.  I mean, they are incorporated, right… that must mean they operate as company (after all they have the company van with that groovy paint job).  One can only assume that they must be charging exorbitant fees and such, how else would they keep buying all those Scooby-snacks?  With transitive association working over time and a firmly placed tongue-in-cheek I have established that Scooby and his pals are operating a legitimate business.  Plus, I think the ghost that is trying to scare me away from the abandoned mine, must really be my crotchety old neighbor… do you think Mystery, Inc. has an 800 number?
 
From there I quickly jump to the clear next question; WHO does WHAT in that crazy company?  In any company that I’ve ever worked for, you find a hierarchy, an org chart, roles and responsibilities.  What about Mystery, Inc.?  Since there hasn’t yet been a Harvard Business Review case study yet and since it’s not clear who is responsible for what from the crazy antics on the show, I’ve made some further assumptions:
 
Fred Jones = President & CEO.  He’s a bit of a bumbling leader who rarely comes up with the answer, but Fred pushes through and is almost always to the one to give the definitive command, “Let’s split up.  Shaggy and Scooby you go that way, the girls and I will check out the (____insert creepy place here____).”  And, I give Fred a lot of credit, because that one command to split up almost always precedes the shenanigans, which leads to the bad-guys tied up with masks removed.  Under Fred’s leadership Mystery Inc. hasn’t exactly thrived, but they definitely get to see interesting places, meet fascinating people and have as many Scooby snacks as they need to fuel the sales force (see below).   
 
Velma Dinkley = Chief Operating Officer.  Velma just plain gets it done.  Almost always the one to deliver the end result and crack the mystery, Velma clearly drives execution in the company.  I often imagine that behind the scenes Velma rolls her eyes a lot – but she has the patience of a practiced leader and allows everyone to believe they are playing a part, even letting Fred think he is running the company, when in fact, she does everything.    
 
Daphne Blake = Vice President Human Resources.  If you’ve been paying attention to the finer detail of the goings on at Mystery, Inc. you’d notice that Daphne is almost always the one to shake the box of Scooby-snacks in front of Shag and Scoob.  Ergo, she seems to be responsible for workplace incentives and compensation.  She’s also the first to raise a concern over a co-worker’s safety, although she doesn’t really follow-through in that area.   While Daphne has good controls over the people practices and various HRIS systems, she could really do the company a service if she wore a skirt that was a bit more appropriate for the workplace.    
 
Norville “Shaggy” Rogers = Director of Sales.  Shaggy's role is a bit harder to define, but when you examine how incentive driven he is, it’s becomes easier to place him in Sales.  Whenever there is hard job to do, Shaggy will agree to do it, but only after he has negotiated his commission.  “You mean you want me to dress up in drag and get chased by the glowing mutant alien?  Okay, I’ll do it, but only if I get a full box of Scooby-snacks.”  The only other indication that Shaggy works in sales is his voracious appetite for free food, he’ll gorge himself to the point of pain if someone else has paid for the buffet.     
 
Scooby-Doo = Marketing Manager.  Scooby-Doo, although a dog, clearly drives marketing activities for Mystery, Inc.  Who else would be able to come up with that crazy-awesome catch-phrase, “Scooooby, dooobie, dooo!”  And after all, a dog who talks, must be good to drive a little business into the company. 
 
Scrappy Doo, Scooby Dumb, the Harlem Globe-Trotters, the Three Stooges and various others = Management Consultants.    Everyone has an opinion about the value these consultants have brought to the ongoing business of Mystery Inc.  Some argue that these consultants allowed Fred and the other principles to think outside the box.  Others would argue that taking advice from Scrappy-doo (with his silly “Puppy-Power” brand of team-motivation), is a just plain bad idea.  I wouldn’t go as far as to say that Scrappy ruined the company, but Mystery, Inc. was never the same place after that engagement.    
 
So after analyzing Mystery, Inc. it is clear to me (if not to anyone else), that the secret to the success if the franchise since 1969 is leverage.  Everyone has a job to do and they all do their jobs well.  By examining the consumption of Scooby-snacks, it seems that Mystery, Inc. must be highly profitable.  Now the only question that remains is how does this thing scale.
 
"Scooby-Doo, Where Are you?"  Racing in that crazy van all the way to the bank. 
 

Brisbane and the Gold Coast

Our first Australian vacation has come and gone – and we thought we’d share a bit of the excitement.  If it were possible, we would have bottled up some of the rain and shared that as well.  You can find pictures of our first Australian holiday here.
 
Australia’s Gold Coast is about 1,000 kilometers north of Sydney on the east coast and is similar in look and feel to Florida.  There are lots of tourist attractions and as we discovered plenty of tourists to fill them up during Australia’s spring break.  Our trip there was luckily a quick one hour flight from Sydney to Brisbane and then an easy hour drive down to Surfers Paradise past MovieWorld, Wet-n-Wild World and Sea World.  So getting there was no problem, and you can imagine how excited we all were with all those “worlds” to explore. 
 
Surfers Paradise is exactly as you would imagine it.  The beaches are incredible with a constant pounding surf, and the surf/vacation lifestyle has carried over to nearly everything (we were amazed by how many people weren’t wearing shoes in the shops downtown).  Surfer’s Paradise also has a bit of the Wisconsin Dells going on.  There is a Ripley’s Believe it or Not, a wax museum and a Hard Rock Café, the latter of which we enjoyed very much.  Beyond the tourist traps, is a beach like none you’ve ever seen before.  Stretching a total of some 60 kilometers from South to North , the beaches of the Gold Coast include some of the most famous surf breaks in the world.  We didn’t venture into the water, because the weather wasn’t with us, and the surf looked as though it could reduce us to little pieces of person, so we didn’t risk it.       
 
We spent the first day of our vacation at Sea World, which is a well run and clean (albeit much smaller) version of Sea World in California (or Florida… or Ohio).  Everyone enjoyed a couple ocean inspired roller coasters, and the fish and chips proved to be a hit (although I can never help but feeling guilty when eating fish at Sea World).  We capped day-one with a visit to downtown Surfers Paradise, which sounds a bit like a contradiction in terms and it is… and it isn’t.  Surfers Paradise is a beach town, but it is also a pretty serious metropolis that includes the world’s tallest residential tower (at 323 meters / 80 stories) and many other skyscrapers just meters from the beach too. 
 
On day two we visited Wet-n-Wild world, which was a family favorite.  It’s about what you’d expect of a water-park.
 
Day three was MovieWorld, also a favorite and the one day on our vacation that lived up to the Gold Coast reputation for sunshine.  In advertising for the Gold Coast, they claim to have more than 300 days of sunshine a year – we either bring rain with us, or we just plain didn’t witness that percentage of sun.  Our percentage was less like 82% sunshine and more like 25%.  Luckily it was sunny the day we visited MovieWorld, which is probably the equivalent of a small six-flags with movie themed rides and shows. 
 
Another highlight from our week away was more international research for our Mrs. Pancake franchise.  We tried the all-you-can eat pancakes at Pancakes in Paradise, ultimately the pancakes won.  It was good enough, however, that the boys demanded we return the next day for more international research. 
 
We spent the last day of our vacation driving around seeing various sites through rain-drop covered car windows.  If you ever need to know where to find a mall near Brisbane airport, we can help you out.   
 
In the end it was nice to get away, but the overall grade on the vacation was probably only a six.  Better than a week at the office or in school, but far from the best holiday we’ve had, or the best we’ll have in Australia.  When you’re planning your trip to Australia, you can visit the Gold Coast if you like, but we're sure there are other destinations in our future that we’ll recommend more highly. 
 
If you want to see pictures from our holiday, click on the Australia photos page.  Check back again later.
 

Things I've learned since Kindergarten.

Many of you will remember the words of wisdom Robert Fulgham shared in his poem “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”  He offered some pretty sound advice about how simple life really is when you think about it.  I always liked that poem. 
 
But, there is so much more wisdom available beyond kindergarten – it’s just too rich a set of lessons not to pass them along. 
 
So since I left that kindergarten classroom back in the 1970’s I’ve spent the past thirty plus years collecting pieces of wisdom that have been handed to me by various people I trust for good advice.  It’s a living list that changes from time to time, but the nature of the list doesn’t change, call it ideas to live by.  I hope these ideas live beyond my years in the hearts and minds of the people I’ve touched, especially my boys, but that’s up to them.  That’s not to say I’m done collecting wisdom, I still have so much more to do and see; the list is never complete.
 
Here’s the advice I try to give to my three boys about what’s important in life and the rules they might choose to live by:
 
  • Believe in a higher power; I’m not saying which one, just believe and don’t apologize for it.
  • Finish what you start.
  • There is no motivation important enough that it should convince you to do something to someone else that you wouldn’t want done to you.
  • Get to know your cousins.
  • Thank Veterans for their sacrifice.  We all owe them big time.
  • Always be sincere – and more importantly authentic.
  • Live in New York, Paris, London, Tokyo or Beijing – you pick!  Bonus points for more than one.
  • Learn another language and find a way to use it.
  • Believe in something bigger than yourself.
  • Frequent flyer miles expire, memories of the world’s wonders last your lifetime, get out and explore.
  • Love Big.
  • Offer to help.
  • Ride on a bullet train.
  • Scuba dive.
  • Dance with your mother on wedding days and tell her how beautiful she is.
  • Start your own business.
  • Serve your country.
  • Never turn down a cupcake.
  • When the bus gets full, give up your seat.  Stand and be thankful you have healthy legs.
  • Learn to play an instrument and sing a love song out loud to someone.
  • Donate blood.
  • Work on a farm.
  • Read books like Huckleberry Finn and Catcher in the Rye and other books that have been banned – that’s the good stuff.  
  • Compete.
  • Learn to surf; learn to sail; learn to rock climb, but be safe.
  • Stick up for those who can’t stick up for themselves.
  • Pick something remarkable that you want to do or be – and then do it or be it.
  • Work hard.
 
  • Always stop at a lemonade stand. 
 
So, while kindergarten was a great place to learn, if you stopped learning there you'd miss way too much.  It's still important to remember to "play fair" like they taught us in Mrs. Carlson's class at Excelsior Elemenatry, but today when I am given the chance to offer advice, I like to summarize it in a phrase I hope to live my life by:   
 
  • Live well, have fun, love big… repeat as necessary.   
 
 
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."
-- Mark Twain
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