leadership dot #2797: restaurants

In a fascinating New York Times article, Pete Wells highlighted 8 ways restaurants have changed in the past decade. Number one: “We ate with our cameras.” Wells recounts that not only has the proliferation of camera phones and Instagram changed the habits of the diners, but it has caused chefs to alter their presentation of the food and for other chefs to become quick to copy them. In this decade, it is as much about how the food looks as how it tastes.

Another trend is the online delivery service – something I would have thought was a good thing for the restaurant business but Wells includes it in his “the future looked grim” trend. Restaurants already faced increased costs of rent, labor, insurance and taxes – and now they must add in delivery services (which take a commission from the restaurant for all their orders) as well as fees for the increased use credit cards.

Consider how the shifts impacting the restaurant industry affect your organization, too. Have you altered your offerings to make them more “Instagramable”? Have you considered whether the widespread use of delivery intersects with your organization’s services or influences your budgeting?

We live in an intertwined economy. Paying attention to what’s on the menu outside your industry can help you thrive in your own.

 

leadership dot #2794: rush job

People frequently ask their printer to rush jobs for them – needing the finished product ASAP or requesting special consideration to get the project printed on a short timeline. One printer capitalized on this phenomenon and made it their business model: promising four-color printing within tight deadlines.

Fresh Color Press is “the home of superb fast-turn, short-run digital collateral printing.” Translated, that means that they expect you to need your print job on a tight timeline, and are set up to anticipate it and accommodate you with a smile. Instead of being made to feel like the printer is doing you a big favor to process your job under an impossible timeline, Fresh Color replies with “no worries, we can still easily get them done.” Even their shipping labels say: “We get it. We’ve got this.” And they do!

Fresh Color is a living example of the high-end firm doing well (see dot 2769). They cost more than the average printer, but their quick service is priceless.

Think about what your clients really want from you. What do people ask for that you aren’t set up to provide? What causes you inconvenience but people frequently request it? What would you like from others who provide what you do? Maybe there is a niche waiting for you to leverage.

 

 

leadership dot #2793: partial

It’s a sure sign of silos when one part of a process goes live while another part is still in development. My sister in Massachusetts is waiting to file her taxes because the forms aren’t ready yet – as if it was a surprise that a new year was coming. I purchased a new car in August and received my Owner’s Manual last week because it wasn’t printed yet. On a technical assistance call today for a grant – that is due March 3 – we learned that some of the clarifying documents will be posted “soon”.

There is always a temptation to get things to the client as soon as you are able, but sharing incomplete information causes more frustration than it resolves. Take the time to “backward engineer” and plan for all the components of a project that will be needed and construct a release date accordingly. It’s not good to have supporting work-in-progress while simultaneously having the product in the user’s hands. Partially completed work is not ready to go live.

leadership dot #2783: golden arches

I watched The Founder, a fascinating movie about the beginning days of McDonald’s. In 1954 when the McDonald Brothers opened their hamburger stand, the only “fast food” was served at drive-ins where there was nothing speedy about the service. The brothers created a revolutionary automation system that trimmed the wait from 30 minutes to 30 seconds, in part by reducing their menu from 27 items to just three: hamburgers, fries and soft drinks.

What seems commonplace today caused an uproar when they first opened. “We underestimated the learning curve,” said Mac McDonald. Early customers were furious that they had to get out of their car and place their own orders (instead of a carhop coming to take them). They were mad that there were no plates and that they were expected to eat off of paper wrappers. They didn’t like that they had to throw away their own trash. But they did like the food, and so the franchise grew (and grew and grew) until now it feeds 1% of the world’s population every day!

There are many lessons from The Founder (and I’ll share more tomorrow) but take two away today. First, consider whether your “menu” is too robust. The McDonald brothers found that 87% of their sales came from the three items they retained, allowing them to specialize and improve in ways that an expansive menu would have not. Are you trying to be all things to all people? Would you provide better value or service if you concentrated on a smaller range of offerings and did them better than anyone?

Thought number two: when you implement a change, be intentional about the learning curve that those who will experience it will encounter. You understand the reasons why eliminating your “car hops” makes it better for everyone, but have you shared that rationale? Have you tested your concept on users who aren’t familiar with the back story to see what questions they have or how they react?

There is organizational gold under those arches. Mine a bit of it for yourself.

 

 

leadership dot #2769: themes

Thought leader Carey Nieuwof outlined 5 disruptive leadership trends for 2020. His list:

  1. The Middle is Disappearing (but the high end and low end are thriving).
  2. DIY (do it yourself) is giving way to DIFM (do it for me).
  3. Insight and access have become more valuable than content (because free content is everywhere).
  4. Focus is a new super power (because distractions are everywhere, too).
  5. Freedom and autonomy are the next generation’s currency. (Just ask Prince Harry!)

You can read more detail about these trends here.

His ideas have been rattling around in my head for days as I consider the implications of each of them. I think the list itself shows the power of #3 – that a synthesized list such as his has more power than pages and pages of random content.

It also makes me want to do a list of my own next year – the promise of which will undoubtedly make me more observant and reflective of the commonalities from these dots and that which I see. How about joining me in the challenge to outline a few trends next year? Let 2020 give you the clarity of vision to see some mega-themes for 2021.

 

Thanks, Brian!

leadership dot #2768: follow through

The magic of change occurs as a result of follow through.

  • People are inspired while attending a conference but change only happens if they implement what was learned.
  • Coaches provide techniques for leaders to enhance their performance but learners must put the tools into practice.
  • Strategic plans outline great ideas to guide the future but tactics must be executed, not just printed on the page.
  • Meetings surface actions to move the organization forward but too often people don’t even think about them until it’s time to prepare for the next meeting.
  • Task forces start out with enthusiasm but fade when momentum isn’t intentionally sustained in between deadlines.
  • New year’s resolutions start with good intentions but fail without good follow through.

Developing plans is the easy part. If you really want to make something happen you need to follow through on the implementation — over and over again. Change never happens on autopilot.

leadership dot #2759: fine print

Think about the amount of ink that is wasted on printing that is never read or used. The fine print of contracts. The lines on the back side of notebook pages. Legal notices in newspaper classifieds. The reverse side of page-a-day calendars. Instruction sheets and owner’s manuals. Ingredient lists. Prescription information with potential side effects. The list could go on and on.

Printing requires time to prepare, ink to implement it and it adds to the weight and cost of products. If you’re serious about organizational cost-cutting and environmental stewardship, one place to start is to print only that which is necessary.

Many cities are required to print their legal notices in the paper; instead, be like towns in Connecticut that changed their ordinance to allow notices to be published online. Minimize your email signature so it doesn’t require several lines every time someone prints your messages. Revisit your forms to consolidate them and eliminate the need for clients to repeat their name and address multiple times.

Pay attention for a few days of all the unread printing that surrounds you – and then commit to producing just a bit less of it yourself.