The Eagle Blog

Book Review – Driving Change (the UPS Approach to Business)

Every month I get my three business book selections from Executive Book Summaries and one of last month’s books was Driving Change by Mike Brewster and Frederick Dalzell. It is the story of UPS, the success that company has enjoyed and the “secret sauce” that helped the company to succeed.

As a business owner I am always interested in the strategies for success that have worked elsewhere and I try to then understand how Eagle can take advantage of similar approaches or strategies.

The UPS “secret sauce” really boils down to culture, execution and a knack for transformation. The author talks about transformation being a part of this company’s DNA.

UPS has its roots in the American Messenger Company started 100 years ago in 1907. So immediately you know this is a company with staying power and that change has come about over a 100 year period. When they started their main source of revenue was delivering Western Union telegrams, went on to deliver small parcels and for its first 50 years did practically no business to business deliveries.

Some UPS facts …

UPS has a global footprint, serving 180 countries and yet as recently as 1985 UPS operations served The US, Canada and Germany.

Today UPS is largely defined by its brown trucks and uniforms, but it also runs the 8th largest airline in the world!

UPS invests about $1 billion a year in technology, ensuring that those 15 million packages a day are tracked and the 427,000 employees are working like a well oiled machine!

In terms of measuring success … UPS had the biggest IPO in history back in 1999. For its first 25 years in business UPS share prices never decreased in value … even in the great depression!

UPS’s growth and success has never really come from a new innovation or invention. Its strength has come from reinventing itself over the years and executing its strategies flawlessly. Any company can learn from UPS, you don’t need to be in a “sexy” space or have sexy innovative products … UPS just keep getting better at what they do, and they do it well!


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4 thoughts on “Book Review – Driving Change (the UPS Approach to Business)

  1. Kevin,

    I have had several dealings with UPS and I find them to be the most frustrating parcel delivery service. I have rarely received packages on time and when receiving items from the US they charge excessive brokerage fees. When a business colleague of mine heard about my frustration he said “UPS..Hmmm doesn’t that stand for Use Purolator Stupid”?

    No doubt they have had sucess over the years but they have lost this customer with poor service and the inability to say sorry.

  2. Kevin,

    I have had several dealings with UPS and I find them to be the most frustrating parcel delivery service. I have rarely received packages on time and when receiving items from the US they charge excessive brokerage fees. When a business colleague of mine heard about my frustration he said “UPS..Hmmm doesn’t that stand for Use Purolator Stupid”?

    No doubt they have had sucess over the years but they have lost this customer with poor service and the inability to say sorry.

  3. First, I do want to say that this blog entry was in no way an endorsement of UPS. It was a review of a book about the success that UPS has had over a 100 years of doing business.

    As a business they have had significant success and with that will come some poor experiences, but I would assume mostly positive experiences. If the current consensus amongst their customer base is that they do a poor job I expect they will be in big trouble.

    The point of this book was to highlight what made them successful and to share that. Perhaps they currently need some focus on customer service … maybe they could share the cost with the supplier I was mentioning in recent blogs!

  4. First, I do want to say that this blog entry was in no way an endorsement of UPS. It was a review of a book about the success that UPS has had over a 100 years of doing business.

    As a business they have had significant success and with that will come some poor experiences, but I would assume mostly positive experiences. If the current consensus amongst their customer base is that they do a poor job I expect they will be in big trouble.

    The point of this book was to highlight what made them successful and to share that. Perhaps they currently need some focus on customer service … maybe they could share the cost with the supplier I was mentioning in recent blogs!

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