The Restaurant that goes above and beyond

With my major in hospitality I wanted to talk about an innovator who I see does well in service development and the one innovator that came into mind when talking about designs of goods and services is Charlie Trotters.  In my hospitality course, we were to read “Lessons in Service from Charlie Trotter” and the book talked about the operation process of the restaurant with the employees as well as the customers.  It really showed emphasis on how concentrating the detail and aspects of both the employees and guests is what gives off the success of service in the long run.

With his employees, he wants his customers to get the service that his servers would want to receive so he encourages his staff to go dine at different restaurants and do research on what was good and what wasn’t.  That way they can implement it on their dining service.  Also there are many different positions in Charlie Trotters and in order for his staff to be the best he gives his employees opportunities (under his expense) by traveling to various states or countries to take a workshop or expo so they can increase their expertise.

This restaurant is the typical restaurant where you may or may not be greeted at the door, you sit, server comes to your table, you order, somebody who isn’t your server delivers your food, you eat, ask for the check, and then leave.  This restaurant isn’t cheap either but it all depends what your definition of expen$ive because even though this course meal may cost your wallet to be empty the service you get out of it could be once in a lifetime and be worth the experience.  Now I can’t list off what every single detail that they do that makes this service an experience but I will share some examples from the book that customers have experienced with Charlie Trotters servers going the extra mile.

What I want to first mention is the customization of the menu.  People go there mainly for the service and if you don’t see anything you like on the menu the Chiefs will make something to your liking, even if they don’t have the ingredients.  They will go to the local shops and do what they can to make you happy.  There is also HONESTY.  With every guest he will go the extra mile but he admits that if he just sees that his service won’t be compatible with his guest he will suggest other restaurants that will suit his guest rather than forcing a service in order to gain profit.

One service example is the blizzard that ran through Chicago on January 2nd, 1999.  The restaurant wasn’t as packed but loyal guests had showed up to their reservations anyway taking cabs and the transit.  After their dinner, the staff contacted numerous of cabs and limos that would take their guests back to their home and they had no luck.  Instead, Charlie didn’t want his guests waiting any longer so he offered himself and as well as the staff to be your personal driver of the night.

A guest wanted to propose to his girlfriend that night at the restaurant and he wanted to use a poem.  He explained to the reservationist over the phone how he didn’t know what to do and he needed help and with the help of the reservationist they both worked out a poem over the phone where he was able to read that night.

Parking is hard to find in the area and a guest had their car towed.  This guest traveled from another state in order to dine at Trotters.  As the guest complained about the car being towed to the receptionist, Sandoval, he offered to take the guest to the towing company.  Sandoval didn’t just drop him off but he stayed with the guest throughout the night waiting at the pound until the guest retrieved his car.

There are other small examples from the staff trying to beat you to the bathroom so they can open the door for you to handing you their tie that they are wearing because you mentioned how much you liked it to Charlie offering to make you lunch even though the restaurant is only open at dinner time.

Were there any restaurants that you been to that you saw as an innovator to a service that they didn’t have to perform but did anyway?  Or had unique strategies on how to treat their operations and employees?


MBWA: Funny Acronym or Effective Personnel Management?

Management by Wandering Around (MBWA) refers to a style of management whereby the manager, or specifically the project manager as discussed in Chapter 10 of “Project Management: The Managerial Process”, initiates contact and builds relationships with key players whose participation is critical for the success of the project. Through these relationships and consistent face-to-face interaction, the project manager is able to foster cooperation between stakeholders and improve probability of project success.

This style was contrasted with an old management adage standby: “the open-door policy”. The open-door policy encourages employees to come to the manager at any point when a problem arises. It relies on the aggressiveness of the employee, the strength of the manager/employee relationship and the employee’s own initiative to bring an issue to the boss. On the other hand, if the employee is not aggressive, lacks initiative or doesn’t have a positive working relationship with their boss whom they can easily bring issues to, this policy can jeopardize success of the project.

That’s the author’s opinion, anyway.

Reading this passage got me thinking: what kind of manager am l? Which one of these policies works better for me? Is one of these policies really better than the other? The answer, like a lot of what I’ve encountered in B-school, depends. I think it depends on the members on your team, and what their preferences are. If you have people whom you know are hard workers but perhaps not extroverted enough to seek you out when necessary, then MBWA works very well. It lets them know you are involved, present, ready to engage when necessary and the consistent interaction will help foster a positive relationship. If, on the other hand, you have team members who have no problem escalating when necessary, and in fact would not appreciate you showing up at their desk unannounced a few times a week, open-door works better for them. Nothing is worse than having a micro-manager for a boss, and MBWA could start to feel like that to a more experienced/confident employee.

I’ve been in both situations–managed people who clearly prefer (and need) the frequent touchpoints that MBWA can provide; I myself employ open-door policy with my boss. I don’t think one one policy is really better than the other, and both have their appropriate uses in the workplace. Fellow managers and supervisors: which style works better for you?

Tracking employees? Is project management technology crossing the line?

I recently came across an article about Google’s newest product called “Maps Coordinate” which is an enhanced version of its regular Google Maps product; however, it can provide employers with the real-time record of worker locations.  Google presents the product as a tool to make companies more efficient by assigning work more effectively by location.  They will charge $15/month for the use of the map.  There are even features to monitor where employees are within an office setting.  The article shares a reaction from a gaming CEO who was horrified by the application.  He stated that companies should be more concerned about production levels and outcomes, rather than how employees are producing. However, while there are privacy settings that can make a person invisible after hours, it begs the question, would a technology like this really create more efficiency in project or operations management or does this technology cross the lines of privacy and ethical boundaries with employees?

My initial reaction is shock that a company would consider tracking their employees like this. Also, it makes me wonder how much technology is needed to be efficient versus technology becoming a distraction.  Additionally, what are the legal and ethical implications of a program that crosses the lines of privacy between employees’ personal (via mobile phone) and professional lives?  It appears to be a potential human resource concern. 

Technological advances will continue, but do we necessarily need all of them?  I can see a tracking tool like this to be useful for operations like a pizza delivery service or UPS service, where knowing the location of a person or product adds value to the customer and overall operational management; however, I think the issue of privacy and respect brings up ethical concerns as well.   According to a recent case I read regarding social media and human resource recruitment, there is evidence that people need some level of privacy in order to deal with stress and to maintain a level of control in their life, psychologically speaking.  When tracking employees through their phones, regardless of whether the company pays for them or not, I think it’s a violation of privacy and lack of respect.  There is the argument that people can turn their settings to “invisible,” but given how there is an increasing pressure to available at all times in our corporate culture, I can’t imagine that being “unavailable” will be accepted culturally.

Also, when working with people from different generations, it’s important to recognize the differences in how people prefer to work.  While the millennial workforce may not be concerned with their employer using a tracking tool, a baby boomer may be very uncomfortable and even allow it to adversely affect their level of productivity.  The lesson here may be that even though technological advances are available to use, there are times where project managers may need to reconsider if the tool will make them more efficient, or potentially hinder them from achieving their goals.

NY Times, “Google Maps Where Your Workers Are”

Kelley School of Business, Indiana Universary, “You’ve Been Tagged!”, Willaim P. Smith, Deborah Kidder

Keep them happy and your business will blossom.

Human Resources and job design is one of the ten critical decision areas of operation management. Human Resources play a major role in the success of any operations management of a company. Human resources supply an organization with its employees and take care of administrative issues such as payroll, on-job training, rewards and other vital matters. It forms the fundamental basis for any operations management system.

Based on the company’s requirements, job descriptions should be tailored and accordingly the selection process starts. HR fills the positions with effective workers who are professional, efficient and have the right work skills. Each employee should be aware of his job description and what is expected of him. Some companies do not have a clear job description, no communication of expectations and responsibilities and therefore, employees have little understanding of their job role and feel confused and disorganized. A strong communication path should exist between the management level and its employees.

For a successful business, great emphasize should be placed on HR because they form the base for any organization. Employees are a company’s first customers. They should be treated with fairness and rewarded as they go up the career ladder. A career path for each employee should be drawn and clearly communicated. Dissatisfied employees could generate bad business practices and dissatisfied customers. Keep them happy and your business will blossom.

I have included below a link for an interview with Steve Jobs. This interview was presented and discussed in one of our work meetings and wanted to share with you. He states two main factors for the success of any organization. One is hiring people who have passion for what they do. Steve Jobs mentioned that people who have passion and love their job would never tire from hard work. To reach success, a lot of hard work and long stressful hours is required. People who don’t have passion for their jobs lack the enthusiasm to work for long hours to accomplish the company goals.

Another success factor is hiring the right talent for the right job. Many times you find the wrong person in the wrong job which results in job errors and customer dissatisfaction. Some companies opt for cheap labor to fill positions instead of paying more for qualified workers, not realizing that in the long run their investment would pay off. Invest in your human resources to achieve success in the long run.

I end this article with a tribute to a great mentor who inspired nations, Steve Jobs. Steve Job’s Interview link:


During the last two sessions we covered the topic of Project Management, and the importance of having the right skills and knowledge in order to manage project successfully, meeting its agreed time, cost, scope without compromising on quality. We’ve also briefly discussed the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager, but would you like know more about the roles and responsibilities of the Project Manager? Well MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! If you are a Project Manager, do you start your work every day thinking about ways to move your company forward?? Well again, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Or do you think of how to get better deals for your procurement processes? One more time, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS!!! Yes, you read correctly, MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.

In most of the projects the Project Manager is minding the business of the cost controller, the Human Resource Manager, the Risk Manager, the Quality Manager, the COO, the CFO and sometimes even the CEO.  Why is that? Because Project Managers always feel that they are in charge of the entire project and its end result, and tend to forget that they are not solely in charge of it, and that other team players are also in charge.

Think of it as channeling your energies toward successfully completing your own assignments – your domain of responsibility.  If everyone in your project focused on his/her own domain of responsibility, the project will do just fine.  In fact if your entire company started to think with this mentality, then not only your project will be more successful, but also your company will be more successful than it is today.

Let us agree on the definition of “Your domain of responsibility”, it includes all responsibilities and commitments that fall within the score of your assignment.  And this applies whether you are a one-person project, or a member of a 10-person project, of a 1000-person project, your project success is directly related to how well you perform within your domain of responsibilities.  It has been my experience that if you focus superbly within your domain of responsibility, your contributions will be the most effective and your career will shine brightly even without the extra credit.

I once worked in a company that did not have well-defined project management best practices that we could adopt as project managers for our projects, nor it had well-defined roles and responsibilities of the project manager, so we – the few project managers – worked together and developed clear “domain of responsibilities” as per the project management best practices and aligned with the PMI’s PMBoK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide).  Examples of the items we included in our domain of responsibilities that project manager often pursued weakly include:
– Seeking out a project sponsor and establishing an effective relationship
– Adopting/defining project management best practices for your own project
– Ensuring client participation
– Obtaining commitment from others and then holding them accountable

Some might think that focusing on your domain of responsibility is selfish and that you do not care about your company, I don’t think so, so what are your thought on this? Will you MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS or Not?