A Woman Setting the Dinner Table
"Serve the dinner backward, do anything-but for goodness sake, do something weird."

-Elsa Maxwell

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

World-Class Customer Service
(Do we serve what they want, or what we want to give them?)

In the reinvention world, the only thing that matters is the customer.

Reinventors and world-class companies live, breathe, and exist solely for the customer. If one focuses on nothing else but the customer, things within your reinvention restaurant will change significantly. Product design--meaning food, beverages, ambiance and service--will improve, costs will drop, delivery times will shorten, and staff satisfaction will go up. This isn't hype. Just ask highly competitive, world class companies.

The problem is for many chefs in government, "customer service" are buzzwords for surveys, customer service standards, and customer hotlines. Not that they are not good, they are absolutely important! It is simply many government chefs don't believe doing these things makes any difference. So, if you are convinced it won't make a difference, it won't.

On the other hand, those reinvention chefs who have figured it out understand good customer service means putting the customer's interests before their own every single time. Day in and day out. Sounds strange, but it pays off. Think about those restaurants where you found the food and service to be outstanding. Service was fast, or it was deliberately paced to allow you to enjoy your meal. When they asked whether everything was all right, they really wanted to know. When you said, "No, it wasn't OK," was when you found your bill being adjusted or you received a free dessert. World-class customer service is not about going through the motions.

Oh, by the way. It helps to know who your diner is. In many government operations you will hear talk about how their customers are internal to the organization, e.g., the program offices are the customers of the procurement offices. Make sense? Try it in a private sector setting. If the comparison holds true, the chef's customers are the waiters, and the meat buyers' customers are the chefs. The poor diner waiting for the meal must be the waiter's customer. Your "diner" is the person ultimately paying the bill, i.e., the taxpayer, the park visitor, the flying public, or the social security recipient.

World class customer service means finding every single way to give your diners what they want, the way they want it, and when they want it. How is your reinvention restaurant serving its diners today?

"A restaurant is a fantasy-a kind of living fantasy in which the diners are the most important members of the cast."

-Warner LeRoy, founder,
Maxwell's Plum restaurant,
New York City

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

Diversity Chili
(low fat)

2 pounds ground London Broil (ask butcher to grind into chili meat)
1 large onion chopped
2 cans Cajun style tomatoes
1 can Mexican or ranch style beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can white beans
2 cans onion soup
2 packages "2 Alarm Chili Mix" or your favorite mix
"V8 Vegetable Juice"

Carmelize the chopped onion in big stew pot.

Add the meat to the pot and brown until golden.

Add the onion soup, tomatoes, and beans to the browned meat and stir.

Add chili mix and stir. You now have a mixture much like a newly formed team. The individual ingredients are great in their own right, but at this point the flavors are fighting for individual recognition and self-determination (storming).

Add "V8" to achieve your desired consistency. The reinvention leader has to have a vision of the desired outcome and make changes (interventions) when required.

Simmer over low heat until flavors begin to meld into one. The longer this chili cooks, the better it gets. Diversity improves team efforts, but the leader has to have the patience to allow the team to evolve (norming).

Top with Cojac cheese and chopped onions and serve to a group of good friends. Share the recipe. Once your team is performing, share the results with everyone. Be sure to acknowledge the diverse skills and attributes which made the effort a success.

"Man does not live by bread alone, even presliced bread."

-D.W. Brogan,
On decline of US baking industry

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

Cooking At Home:
Elegant Egg Frittata

A Bunch of Jalapena Peppers By taking simple ingredients like eggs and mixing them with vegetables, a chef can make a dish for an elegant evening meal or a romantic breakfast or brunch. We bet you have all the ingredients for the recipe in your home refrigerator or pantry. If not, all of them are available at your local grocery. So you don't have to go to some exotic, expensive, outside source to make this dish. Plus it's easy! It will take less than 20-30 minutes to whip up in your own kitchen. The pay-off is fantastic. Whether served to friends or your spouse, you will get rave reviews.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small chopped red bell pepper; 3/4 to 1 cup
1 small chopped green bell pepper; 3/4 to 1 cup
1 garlic clove minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
chopped fresh parsley (optional)

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers and garlic; sautÚ 5 minutes. Add spices and tomatoes. Cover and cook until bell peppers are tender, about 5 minutes. Uncover and cook until liquid almost evaporates, about 1 minute.

Gently stir in eggs; cover and cook until set, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Cut into wedges, garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

Try a side dish of good French bread or warm sourdough rolls and some fresh fruit. For special occasions, add fresh strawberries and champagne.

"Vegetarian: someone who has a beef with beef."

-Paul Harlan Collins

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

Organizational Values Biscuits

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup shortening
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

Measure carefully combining flour, soda, powder, and salt in a small bowl. We know how well we're doing in satisfying customers when we measure our progress for improvements.

Cut in the shortening til like coarse crumbs. Change, when added effectively to an organization sets that organization on the move, works through it toward reaching and maintaining its values, and creates substantial growth within the organization.

Make a well; add buttermilk. As buttermilk produces a finer textured biscuit, so do quality and teamwork produce a "finer" organization.

Stir quickly with fork just til dough follows fork around bowl. After we become ISO 9002 certified, we then follow up with plans to receive the coveted Malcolm Baldridge Award.

Turn onto lightly floured surface (Dough should be soft.) Valuing and using diverse views and experiences people bring with them to an organization makes that organization more resourceful, resilient, efficient, and just makes better business sense.

Knead gently 10 to 12 strokes. When an organization is changing, at times it becomes painful. But where there are employees who are loyal and committed to an organization, and trust the outcome from effective change will produce a more outstanding and efficient organization, that organization will be dedicated to producing only quality goods and services, resulting in satisfied customers.

Roll or pat dough 1/2 inch thick. Dip 2 1/2 inch star-shaped biscuit cutter in flour. Roll dough and make star-shaped cutout biscuits. To an organization that views status quo as an "enemy" to growth and success, that organization will seek innovation and risk-taking in its quest to be a stellar, world-class organization. It will "roll itself out" with new ideas, test them, and when successful, implement them.

Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 450║ about 12 mintues. Enjoy! Leadership and communication, along with all the other above values, are orchestrated into a synergized, energized, finely tuned organization that works so well, customers who use that organization's products and services wouldn't think of taking their business elsewhere. The customers say, "These are world-class rated biscuits! Try some!"

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

Training Restaurant Chefs

You tell your restaurant chefs, "Tomorrow we are changing the menu from American cuisine to Russian dishes." Good luck if you didn't give them any training. Not only does it help to have a recipe and the proper instruction, but it helps to know what the dish is supposed to taste like. Versatility in cooking comes with training.

Reinventing an organization is no different than changing your restaurant menu. By definition, your organization will be doing something tomorrow that is very different than what it did in the past. The workforce needs to have the knowledge, expertise, and skills necessary to work effectively in the new reinvented mode. The only way it will get those is through education or training.

The problem is reinvention takes time and resources. With the changes underway, the tendency is to believe the organization cannot afford the time or money to invest in training. Or the employees themselves may believe they don't have time for training. Don't make this mistake! Failure to give the employees the tools they need to make the transition is a sure fire way to get the same old result. Think of our earlier example of the restaurant's switch to a Russian menu. No matter how busy that restaurant might be, nor how costly redecorating to a Russian motif, it will not succeed if the chefs are not trained.

Whenever you are making major changes, plan to increase training. Look for every conceivable area where employee skills need to be enhanced as a result of the changes. Consider the second and third order impacts of your changes. You will find there are critical training requirements you would not have recognized or considered otherwise. Ultimately, the goal is to create a learning organization where employees become less apprehensive about changes because they are confident they can acquire the tools they need through training and education. Invest in the workforce and you will find they start leading the changes themselves.

"Give a person a fish and you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish and you feed them for a lifetime."

Focus on Turnaround

If it weren't for our workforce, there would be no quality, no customer service, no production, and no improvement in any of these areas. Employees truly are our most valuable assets. As with any other valuable asset, a good manager wants to protect their investment from environmental changes, and whenever possible, increase the value of the asset by making improvements and enhancements to expand its capabilities.

The Logistics Center is stepping up its commitment to workforce investment by going beyond training and development. A special project, referred to as "Workforce 21," is underway to describe a comprehensive workforce management strategy to address the workforce related challenges of the next millennium. The Workforce 21 study team has already identified the need to integrate all the workforce management programs and possibly establish a strategic workforce management organization to ensure this very critical management function is given the same level of attention as financial management and operational management.

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

Collecting Green Stamps
(Incentives and Rewards)

A Baker In the 50's and 60's, grocery stores would offer incentives to attract shoppers to their food store. In the 90's, manufacturers do that with store coupons, doubled coupons, and customer rebates. Retailers know if you want a prospective customer to do something, you can't just tell them to do it. You have to incentivize them.

Reinvention chefs would do well to look at where they want their restaurant to go, and where the organization's incentives and recognition system takes them. More likely than not, the incentive and recognition system is still the same one designed to perpetuate the values of the old culture.

How important is it for the reinventor to take a serious, hard look at the incentives and recognition system? Really important!! Think of McDonald's latest contest that uses a Monopoly game. Customers are given Monopoly property cards whenever they purchase a 32 ounce large soft drink, super-size french fries, or hash browns. No other purchase gets a property card. If you get the right card or combination of property cards, you win a prize. What do you think McDonald's is selling a lot more of these days? Probably there are more people playing the game who stop at the drive-thru just to purchase a large drink, fries, or hash browns, and nothing else because all they want are those property cards and a chance to win. People follow incentives.

If your reinvented organization values learning, but your existing incentive system rewards high volume production, guess what? Your employees will not want to take time from their desks to attend learning/training activities. What if your organization is moving toward teams, but your current recognition system rewards individual performance? Your employees will each try to be stars to the detriment of the team environment. Perhaps your reinvention restaurant wants to try new recipes, but your performance system punishes mistakes. Your workforce will always make sure it stays on safe ground. So much for the risk-taking.

Change the incentive, reward and recognition systems, and you will make the same discovery food retailers learned a while back. You don't have to tell people what you want them to do. They will do it because they want to.

"An oldtimer remembers when a pie was set on the window sill to cool, not thaw."

-Corrales Historical Society Docents

Return to Table of Contents
Return to Top of Page
NPR Home Page

NPR Home Page Search the NPR Site NPR Initiatives Site Index Calendar Comments Awards Links Tools Frequently Asked Questions Speeches News Releases Library Navigation Bar For NPR site