yesterday, 15,000 friends and i ran the chicago rock n' roll half marathon. the highlight was when organizers subtly tried to kill us all with discarded sponges. i know, i know. if i'd been in the lead, there'd have been no runners and discarded sponges ahead of me. alas, i was not feeling kenyan that day.
it was the first big chicago event run by a company (Competitor.com) that's doing what so many companies are doing: figuring out how to scale a product or service while chopping corners at all occasions along the way.
the result? while the race was regretfully still 13.1 miles (i always hope there's a mistake in laying out the course), the real disappointment was in the treatment of the participants. little things, really. you couldn't have a friend pick up your race packet. the "rock n' roll" part was limited to runners who were in VERY close proximity to the band stages. and if you had a question via email, you got an auto-reply that the staff was off organizing the race and would get back to you a few days after the race. (as a company, you know you're not doing things right when you feel compelled to put up a "solutions tent.") none of these complaints are big, mind you. but as the zappos of the world figure out how to treat customers right, it becomes harder to tolerate the companies who don't.