The 1Up Rule

jetBlue* seems to do a lot more right than they do wrong.  So much so that I had a bit of an argument with another traveler on a flight the other day.

Me: rambling on about how beautiful the jetBlue terminal at JFK airport is (they’re in the old TWA Flight Center from back-in-the-day) versus some of the airline terminals.

The Other Guy: “Well, most of those terminals were built decades ago.”

Me: (snapping back, but thankfully not prefacing my reply with “HEY MORON!”) Have you watched TLC?  They fill that channel with like 29 hours worth of home improvement shows every fraking day.  It’s not that hard to do a renovation.  There’s gotta be a Home Depot somewhere in Queens.

The point is, any airline could do what jetBlue is doing.

They all could.

But they don’t.

Why?  It’s not my place to speculate on the business practices of other companies.

Maybe it’s because they hate puppies.  Or they hate America.

Like I said, I won’t speculate.

But what I will tell you is that companies that have brand loyalty (like jetBlue in this case) follow the “1Up Rule.”

The 1Up Rule means that you not only do what is necessary and essential to serve your customers, but that you strive to always make it at least 1 point better.

It’s a two column checklist.

  1. Did I do the thing I needed to do when it needed to be done?
  2. Can I do something simple to make it slightly better than what it needed to be?

An example of something jetBlue has been doing for a few years now is their snack selection.

All airlines provide snacks, but jetBlue provide multiple options for snacks and rotate the selection on a seasonal basis so that frequent travelers don’t get bored with the same options.

Simple.  But it’s something that their customers notice.

The example that came to mind (and made me create the rule and write this post) was at the gate.

At each gate, there were bar stools with a counter full of power outlets.

Older terminals have power outlets and some newer airport terminals even have tables and chairs.

But here’s where they 1Up – with a touch screen above the tabletop for easy ordering of food and beverages that can be delivered to your table.

Leisure travelers will find this feature to be a bit frivolous, but business travelers who are sometimes pressed to squeeze every minute of productivity out of their airport time before boarding will find this to be insanely valuable.

Speaking from experience, waiting in line for 10 minutes to get food might not seem like a long time but it can easily mean the difference between an urgent e-mail sent to your team or a message that sits in your “Draft” folder for 4 hours before you reach the hotel or home.

A warning for overthinking the 1Up rule.  With everything, there is a case to be made for making something “too good” and you gotta know when to stop and Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) and not get lost inside your head by over-complicating or over-architecting your 1Up.

So.  The next time you’re developing a project plan, create the following spreadsheet or checklist:

| TASK | DUE DATE | 1UP|

What am I doing?  When is it do?  How do I “1Up” it?

* Please note that while IBM does advertise with jetBlue (we have our Smarter Planet campaign in the JFK terminal and are doing some Lotus ads on their in-flight TVs),  I am not associated with either of these projects and have not been paid to write this blog post and the views expressed here are mine alone.

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