When people ask us about our history, 3 questions come up the most – what does TMI stand for, what’s the meaning behind the logo and what’s this we hear about a backward dog? So – are you sitting comfortably?
Then…..let us begin!
To understand TMI is to understand the story of our founder, Claus Moller. A larger-than-life character with a penchant for dodgy cardigans, who liked to tell stories… in the time before storytelling became famous. Claus used storytelling to approach complex and difficult subjects, like attitudes, work ethics, service, organisational culture and management theories in an accessible and everyday way that people could really understand and learn from.
This was the basis for the company Claus and his friend Chris Lane started in 1975. Today, storytelling is a TMI hallmark, and ‘making the complex simple’ is one of the values that we still hold dear.
Some of us (present company excepted of course!) can remember what it was like to work in the 1970s. No-one talked about employee engagement, purpose at work, aligning personal and organisational goals nor the idea that individuals – no matter what level they were in an organisation, could shape how they approached their tasks and so how fulfilled they felt at work.
And that really was the essence of what Claus and Chris introduced – through their Time Manager principles and systems and the idea of “The Time of Your Life”. (That explains the TMI part of our name – Time Manager International).
Claus’ fame attracted Jan Carlzon, the CEO of SAS, an airline in desperate need of a customer service and employee engagement transformation. Rumour has it that they first met in a bar, at a ski resort, and whilst it was snowing outside Claus entertained the guests with his stories. TMI became famous for turning the reputation (and revenues) of SAS around.
Claus and Jan Carlzon pioneered the phrase ‘Moments of Truth’ to describe those moments when customers come into contact with an organisation. The American Management Association called this one of the most important developments in management in the 20th century. The changes led to SAS being named Airline of the year in 1984.
In 1982, BA approached TMI UK to do a similar project to make BA more attractive to sellers as it became privatized. TMI took on the project involving all BA’s 36,400 people and developed “Putting People First”. Three years later BA was named the world’s favourite airline.
And so we come to our logo. Our logo is the symbol for ‘holos’ – the Greek word for ‘the whole’ which essentially sums up our approach to working with organisations to achieve long-lasting change. We look at the whole organisation, the whole customer journey and know that employees are at their most effective at delivering great experiences when they bring their whole person to work.
By the 90s quality and service had become a trending topic in the business world and Claus started to get significant worldwide acclaim.
The British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) identified 9 global ‘quality gurus’, 3 Japanese, 5 Americans (including W. Edwards Deming and Tom Peters) and 1 European – our very own Claus Moller. Claus and Janelle Barlow – the head of TMI in the US co-authored “A Complaint is a Gift” in 1999.
It is one of the top 4% business books sold in the world.
Fast forward a couple of decades or so... whilst some things have changed and evolved, what’s interesting is how much has remained of the original company and ethos. The creativity, belief, dedication and commitment of TMI people remains; some were once TMI customers and begged, pleaded and bribed their way into joining.
TMI’s core customer group continues to grow, and includes some of the world’s top brands, whilst many customers just keep coming back for more.
So much of what TMI still stands for today has its roots in those early years: helping people reach their potential, balancing the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’, delivering outcomes and results through a revitalised and motivated workforce.
And of course a deep understanding of what is needed to transform an organisation’s customer experience.
Not bad for the first 40 years – and as every 40 year old worth their salt would say, the best is yet to come! So we hope we’ve inspired you to want to work with us and become part of the story.
But you’ve missed out the bit about the backward dog we hear you say… TMI UK’s legal name is actually Labinah – you might see that on some ‘official’ documents. Chris and Claus needed to come up with a name so they named it after Claus’ dog Hanibal – spelt backwards.
And there you have it!