Cooking Terms For Reinvention Kitchens
Table of EquivalenciesHead Chef - Senior Manager/Leader
Master Chef - Members of the Management Team typically with expertise in a particular functional area
Borrowing recipes from others that you find tasty - Benchmarking
Planning the Menu - Strategic Planning
The Kitchen or Restaurant - The Organization
The Recipes - Initiatives for change
Weights and Measures
Glossary of Terms
GPRA - Government Performance and Results Act
GMRA - Government Management Reform Act
CFO - Chief Financial Office
"I was 32 when I started cooking; up until then I just ate."
If you can organize your kitchen, you can organize your life."
Focus on Turnaround
The FAA Logistics Center revised and updated its strategic plan in 1999. While we received a great deal of positive recognition for our previous strategic plan, published in 1997, the new version is even better. Why is it better? It's better because we listened to the people who had to actually use the plan as a roadmap for our turnaround. They said the first one was good, but our key strategies, to "work better" and/or "cost less" were so broad it was difficult to use them to prioritize and focus change initiatives. After all, no one would intentionally implement a new program or change a process that would make us less efficient and cost us more money; so that meant just about any initiative could be consistent with our strategy.
The new plan contains key strategies that narrow our focus and better define the intended results, but still allow each component of our organization to be innovative and creative as they execute each strategy.
Pick up a copy of the FAA Logistics Center Strategic Plan, 1999 - 2002 and see if you don't find it to be a "user friendly" strategic plan.
Many government operations have bureaucratized the strategic plan process to the point it takes a lot of time and effort, contains few or no stretch goals, and produces a plan that sits on the shelf.
But, if you want to create a genuine reinvention restaurant, it is important to know the strategic plan is really your business plan. It spells out the corporate goals and strategies that the entire restaurant will be following and it keeps the business on track. Some strategic plan approaches, such as the "balanced scorecard," allow a reinvention restaurant to push change in four directions simultaneously.
Genuine S-T-R-E-T-C-H goals with solid performance measurements actually create forward push and momentum for the organization. When the strategic plan is used correctly, its utility is extremely high and relatively short. Why? Because the plan starts to fulfill its objectives sooner than later, and the need for a newer, updated plan materializes.
The sign that a reinvention restaurant has found the right use for its strategic plan is the plans don't last long enough to sit on shelves. Like very good cookbooks they are used frequently and soon wear out. But they earn a lot of money for their head and master chefs while they last!
Restaurant Planning Tip
"Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good."
The basic bread is great for sandwiches, snacks, or with salads, wine, and soups. Try adding herbs of your choice. Also, a great dough for pizza and can be used as a dessert bread by adding fruit and toppings.
Some of the most vital are those that measure the ingredients that go in the recipe, such as measuring cups and spoons. We immediately think of these measuring devices. However, equally important, and sometimes taken for granted, are those related to temperature and time. What would happen if you had no way of regulating the temperature of your oven, or you had no clock to tell how long something had been baking? No matter how well you measured the ingredients that went into the recipe, you could end up with a disaster. A world class chef would never simply focus on the ingredients in a recipe and ignore other factors affecting the outcome of the recipe.
An organization in the process of change cannot limit its focus to one area of the transformation. If the reinvention focus is limited to financial change, workforce development needs or capital improvement needs will be short-changed. Focusing strictly on the customer expectations without regard to cost will result in financial disaster.
In the reinvention kitchen, we recommend you build a balanced scorecard to ensure you are considering and measuring all the key factors that must work together to achieve your organizational vision. A complete balanced scorecard contains goals, measures, and targets. The following chart contains the basic ingredients in a balanced scorecard:
Uses of the Balanced Scorecard:
This year the FAA Logistics Center became the first Federal Aviation Administration organization to win a Presidential Quality Award Program-Merit Award. This accomplishment was due in part to the implementation of an effective performance management system. In 1996, well before other government agencies began to develop performance measures using balanced scorecard concepts, the FAA Logistics Center developed its first balanced scorecard. The balanced scorecard played a vital role in the management of these turnaround efforts, and enabled the Logistics Center to radically improve its performance.
Performance measurements at all levels of the organization can be linked to the balanced scorecard as described in our strategic plan. The management team conducts quarterly reviews of each performance indicator. While our performance management system is still evolving and maturing, we have made significant strides toward integrating our performance measurements to provide an effective decision support system. The balanced scorecard was the catalyst for this evolution and enables us to make sound operational decisions that are consistent with our strategic objectives.
Of course, this is when you hear the government chef admonish, "We will be business-like, we are not a business. The government restaurant isn't a business and we can't operate on a profit."
It's true government chefs cannot make a profit, but it is an easy deception to say there is no bottom-line. University business schools are filled with executives from not-for-profit and nonprofit institutions that are businesses without profits, but which operate to bottom-lines. When many people peruse the Combined Federal Campaign catalog, they consider a charity's administrative cost figure before deciding whether to make a donation!
Try operating your restaurant a different way. Hire a top notch financial person from the private sector. Or send all the master chefs and their budget experts to financial management school where they will learn about profit-loss statements, opportunity costs, and activity based costing, and see if your funding needs don't begin to drop faster than a soufflé when you open the oven door too early!
Focus on Turnaround
In 1997 and 1998, the Logistics Center contracted with a local university to teach managers how to operate their organizations according to private sector financial principles. Our managers now use and understand terms like, gross margin, cost of goods sold, variable and fixed costs and return on investment. Understanding basic financial management principles and concepts is critical to our success as we move to a "fee for service" concept. However, congressional mandates like the Government Performance Results Act, the FAIR Act, and similar initiatives drive the need for all government managers and supervisors to expand their knowledge of basic financial management practices. As we take control of our own destiny and push accountability for results further down the organization, we learned all employees need at least a basic understanding of business concepts; therefore, all FAALC employees attended a one-week training program in business process reengineering and business concepts.
"If Broadway shows charge preview prices while the cast is in dress rehearsal, why should restaurants charge full price when their dining room and kitchen staffs are still practicing?"
1-Top notch financial manager with private sector experience
Focus on Turnaround
This classified advertisement enabled us to recruit and ultimately hire a recently retired Chief Financial Officer from one of the largest food distributors in the United States. Under his guidance and direction, the Logistics Center has been able to develop financial statements and financial management information comparable to a major private sector corporation.
As a result of these improvements in our financial management practices, we are able to make management decisions based on a sound business case assessment, rather than intuition and rough "guess-timates."
Good reinvention chefs don't wait for organizational changes to transform the decisionmaking. This is too slow! It is virtually impossible to transform quickly if the workers are not actively involved. And a reinventor takes a lot of risks trying to go it alone. Successfully making a major change means dozens, if not hundreds, of minor subsequent adjustments need to be made throughout the restaurant just so the change works, and things affected are modified to the new conditions. If this doesn't happen, some things will be worse than before.
These changes will never be made on time if the staff has to rely on the chefs to make decisions. This means the chef has to trust that the workers can make as good or better decisions. Few businesses facing stiff competition can afford to waste or lose ideas. The best restaurants are those that find ways to harness the ideas coming from their employees. Bringing in the chefs, staff, and experts from the beginning is an essential ingredient to success.
One of the most effective ways to achieve this is through a genuine partnership where everyone agrees that at the most basic level, they share many common interests. More can be accomplished if all partners trust each other. Even more can be achieved when the chefs are willing to proactively reach out and expand employee involvement beyond what is expected in a traditional partnership. The more that decisions and preparations can be made jointly up front, the less time, confusion, and cost to stay successful.
It is ironic, but you go slower to go faster!
"Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last."
Here is a helpful hint that will save you time, money, and effort. Steal other people's ideas, and find out where the popular restaurants buy their ingredients. They have spent a lot of time and money doing research and perfecting their restaurant business. Why should you go the same tough road they have?
Don't believe this works? Have you noticed how many successful Mexican chain restaurants use the same design and motif? What about how many higher end priced automobiles use a hood ornament along the style of Mercedes? Or how generic brand soups and store brand mouthwash mimic the design of the best selling brands? Why mess with success?
You also might not believe this, but it is legal! In the business world, we copy each other by benchmarking and adopting best practices. In the past 18 months, the Logistics Center has benchmarked more than 20 world-class operations, ranging from performance measures, to distribution, to customer service. We never found a great idea that we didn't steal! (Note: To be an ethical benchmarker, you have to follow special rules, so don't try this without a benchmarking master chef's supervision-contact your local NPR representative for further information.)
Focus on TurnaroundIn the time frame of 1996 through 1998, the FAALC made 28 formal and informal benchmark studies including site visits to world-class organizations such as Federal Express, NCR Worldwide Service Logistics, and Lucent Technologies.
"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear."
You immediately call the source of the recipe to try to determine what they forgot to share with you. After a short discussion, you learn in order to properly prepare the dish, you cannot substitute a cup of salt for a teaspoon, you really should have had the thermostat on your oven replaced, and maybe you did cook it for two hours instead of 20 minutes.
Had the Clueless Cook followed the "benchmarking protocol," the outcome would have been closer to the expectation.
There are a couple of benchmarking lessons we can learn from the clueless cook. First, if you are going to benchmark, be sure you carefully document the process, and fully understand how and where it applies.
Second, perhaps the person sharing the recipe would have been more willing to provide a complete and thorough explanation, if the clueless cook had been willing to reciprocate and share some of their recipes. Remember, benchmarking is a two way street. If you steal ideas from another organization, you should be willing to share your ideas.
"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."
If you want to be a successful reinvention chef, you need to think differently. Start with the realization that normal business competition in the private sector forces a business to lower its costs every single year. The first year that it fails to reduce its operating costs and simultaneously offer better dishes and better services, one of its competitors is going to start taking over the market! So the fundamental rule is: each year, costs must go down and performance must go up! Sounds like NPR's "Works Better, Costs Less." Yet, how many government chefs ask for less money each year?
But, believe it or not, this is status quo thinking, not a die-hard reinventor's thinking. The real reinvention challenge is to do what Chrysler, Harley-Davidson, and every other money-losing business had to do to survive when their products or services were so out of touch their market share was declining. To succeed, they had to reduce costs; train and retrain employees; improve their products; retool; make capital investments; and do it all with declining revenues and fewer people. But this isn't enough. At the same time, their products had to beat the competition's to get their market share back!
How can a government reinvention restaurant achieve this? One daring approach is for the head chef to start taking self-imposed cuts each year. Big ones! These cuts are used to fund the capital improvements and expand employee skills and capabilities. If the budget is cut, the chef takes even deeper self-imposed cuts. The goal is to keep the improvements coming. Not surprisingly, the productivity improvements and cost savings often offset the impact of the self-imposed reductions. Sound crazy? Well, it happens in the private sector all the time.
"People are getting tired of going out to expensive restaurants and spending lots of money for seven pea pods and a two-inch steak."
One trick is to move the chefs around. Put the dessert chef in charge of appetizers; the appetizer chef in charge of salads; and the entree chef in charge of desserts. Voila! You'll be surprised by the result! No longer do the master chefs have reason to defend their old menus, or stray back to their past favorite dishes. Now their focus is on making the restaurant's menu a success. (Of course, providing the head chef holds them accountable for results!)
One big question that might be asked is whether a master entree chef will ever be a good master dessert chef. In fact, some head chefs are afraid to move their master chefs around for fear they will not be able to perform. If you have made a good selection of chefs based on their ability to cook gourmet dishes, then interchangeability is no problem. However, in many government restaurants, the master chefs made their way to those positions by knowing a lot about a specialized area of food, but not on their ability to cook. When you take away that dish, they don't know a lot. That is still not a good reason for not moving your chefs around. It will quickly show who got to their position based on technical knowledge, rather than on cooking ability. You stand to lose relatively little. If you find your chefs are not good at cooking, then that may be one of the reasons your current menu isn't working.
Try this approach, and see if the food critics don't soon start writing about the changes in your restaurant!
Focus on Turnaround
Due to urgent staffing requirements within the organization, the FAALC has had the opportunity to move several managers to different positions. Although some of these moves are not permanent, these changes have exposed these managers to a different "perspective" of the organization while allowing them to use skills and experiences from past positions. Perspective is also a factor in the 360-degree assessment strategy, which all managers utilized during the past year. Taking input from subordinates, peers, and bosses, the manager begins to get a clearer - if not comforting - idea of how (s)he "shows up" in different work environments. The final result included the identification of "gaps" in the manager's (perceived) effectiveness as a leader. It also offered prescriptive suggestions for personal action by the manager to close those gaps and become more consistent, more effective, and more responsive.
"Today's restaurant is theater on a grand scale."