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Last Update: Thursday July 29, 2021

Key Idea: Create an Esprit de Corps

Most everyone at Modern Postcard works on a team. These are not departments or work groups. They use the sports metaphor because so many of the employees are involved in sports.  More...

Key Question:


The strategy at Modern Postcard is to put everyone on a team then cheer the teams on to success.

Jim and Steve surf, ski, skateboard, snowboard and cycle. CFO Bill Lofft is a long-distance cyclist. There are many young people at Modern and they seem to respond well to the idea of being on a work team. We also know there is a co-ed Modern softball team.

Q:  What example did you see in the television program that demonstrates team work at Modern?

A: You saw a light that flashes when a team needs help. Every customer is assigned to a customer service team. This means, since Modern can't control when what customers will call or email, one team -- on a given day -- could have dozens of orders while another team could have none.

Teams jump in to rescue other teams which tells us there truly is esprit de corps! In the complete interview with Steve you will discover that he thinks hard about the complexity of communication as the company grows. He is very aware that keeping every person informed of every thing that is going on now is impossible but he is still thinking about how to keep communication flowing.

Think about it

Do you have esprit de corps? If not, what can you do to get it? What have you done in the past that caused employees to work together better?

Clip from: Modern Postcard

From 16 to 250+ employees

Carlsbad, California: Can an entire industry, the business of performance management, be reduced to a postcard? Can the deep study of kaizen and the work of business gurus like Peter Drucker be reduced to a link?  The quick answer is, "Yes." Visit Modern Postcard and meet Steve Hoffman and his team  producing over 100 million postcards a year for some 150,000 customers.

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Modern Postcard, Inc.

Steve Hoffman, CEO

1675 Faraday
Carlsbad, CA 92008

Visit our web site:

Office: 7604317084

Business Classification:
Printing, publishing

Year Founded: 1996

Create an Esprit de Corps

DEENA: (On telephone) This is Deena. How may I help you?

HATTIE: So, Steve, tell me about the lights, the flashing lights.

STEVE: The lights are designed that, since we all work in teams, we have to basically come to each other's aid. The lights that are out mean that the team doesn't need help, and everybody goes towards the lights that are on.

DEENA: (On telephone) Let's see. We received your order today, so you're scheduled to receive your layout tomorrow.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) All the teams are assigned specific customers, so if all of Veronica's customers, like me, call on the same day, she's the one we want to talk to.

STEVE: She's going to be very stressed, and her team will be behind, and we don't want to miss a deadline, so you have to have everybody in the company come to her aid.

DEENA: (On phone) I will give you a call tomorrow to see if you have any further questions. Thank you, Debbie. Bye-bye.

STEVE: Doing a postcard actually is kind of complicated.

HATTIE: It is.

STEVE: You got to understand what your market--you got to first of all understand your clients. You got to come up with a fairly good marketing idea. You got to come up with a good image. And even though you've got a low-cost producer, the image alone can cost you four to five times...

HATTIE: Oh, yeah.

STEVE: ...what the whole postcard cost you, and you're going to be mailing these out...more money than the postcard, so it's really a total package. And the idea is to really put some brains or some creative talent, let's put it that way, behind the mark...

HATTIE: The package.

STEVE: The whole package.

BILL: We don't view ourselves as competing with a printing house that is going to do two million copies of a particular postcard. That's not our business. We're not in the commodity business. We're in the value added business.

(Voiceover) We add to what the customer gets in a physical postcard. We add a great deal of knowledge. We add a market understanding. We add the speed. We're continuingly pressing the limits, and again, it's because it's a system-driven house.

There is an emergency light on top edge of ever cubicle and when the light is flashing, it invites help and it says to everyone: Don't let anyone get behind..

STEVE: Like, some people are driven by money. That's not what drives me. What drives me is service. And I look at what I do for my customers, as well as my employees, is I'm constantly looking, `OK, how can I raise the bar?' And...

HATTIE: How can I serve more?

STEVE: Serve better, faster, less expensively, be able to pay out larger bonuses.... But I'm not satisfied with the level of service that I'm currently at. I'm always looking to do better.

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