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Zappos, a billion dollar e-commerce business on Fortune Magazine’s 2009 list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For, does some quite innovative things in how it hires, trains, retains, and downsizes (when needed) its workforce (See the RealTime Leadership blog). But most interesting to me is how Zappos creates a culture that supports employee and customer engagement. CEO, Tony Hsieh, talks about the importance of happiness in his company culture. He writes:

Zappos is about delivering happiness, whether for customers (through customer service) or for employees (through company culture). It's been interesting thinking about how all of my personal learnings about happiness can be applied to delivering happiness in the business world as well.

Hsieh emphasizes how his company works (and how he works) rather than what they sell. This is also the theme of Dov Seidman’s book How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything..in Business (and in Life). At his blog he writes:

Human conduct — how we do what we do — represents the next frontier of powerful differentiation. The qualities that many once thought of as “soft” — trust, integrity, honesty — are now the hard currency of business success and the ultimate drivers of efficiency, productivity and profitability. Connections based on these values can reduce corporate governance risks and supply chain disruptions, enhance customer experience, help executives exert greater influence over a highly decentralized global workforce, and ultimately lower costs and boost revenues.

Zappos appears to be an excellent example of operationalizing the value of “trust, integrity, honesty” that Seidman addresses in his book and on his blog.

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