A Mighty Fine Path to Quality (and Overall Success) – A Brief Look at the Quality of Mighty Fine Burgers
Hold weekly or monthly status meetings to ensure that everyone is aware of what’s going on.
Jeff Cannon, and Lieutenant Commander Jon Cannon, Leadership Lessons of the U.S. Navy SEALS : Battle-Tested Strategies for Creating Successful Organizations and Inspiring Extraordinary Results
An effective rhythm of daily; weekly; monthly; quarterly; annual meetings to maintain alignment and drive accountability — “until your people are mocking you, you’ve not repeated your message enough.”
Verne Harnish, Mastering The Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Fast-Growth Firm
Mighty Fine Burgers (the one I eat at is in Round Rock) has some mighty fine hamburgers, and milk shakes – and a fun atmosphere, and a cool, space-age hand washing machine. They offer a really! good!! hamburger!!!, and an even better shake!!!! People tell me their fries are equally excellent, but I can’t vouch for those personally (I only have room for so many calories). They also have their Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award banner prominently displayed — see:
I talked to one of their managers, Steven, and asked him how they won their Baldridge Award. He said (paraphrased): ”we decided to go after it; we won a “Texas version” one year (the Texas Award For Performance Excellence); we kept improving, and then we won our Baldrige Award last year” (Actually, the Baldrige Award was given to their parent company: K&N Management is the licensed Austin, Texas-area developer for Rudy’s “Country Store” & Bar-B-Q and the creator of Mighty Fine Burgers, Fries and Shakes, two fast-casual restaurant concepts. Read about their award here).
They absolutely focus on quality — from their web site:
Being from Austin means that the bar for quality is set very high, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. To us Quality is Everything, from our all-natural meat to our personalized bags, from our open kitchen to our world-class service. You might even say that we are a little weird about quality—in fact we are totally obsessed with it. We purposely limit our menu so that we can deliver the best food and best service to every one of our customers. We may only do a few things, but we do them better than any one else.
I kept after Steven, and asked this question: how many meetings did you have with your people about your quest for quality? The answer, as expected, was (paraphrasing again)– “daily, constantly, consistently… we meet all the time. We meet at the company management level, and with every shift team. We meet, we aim for quality, we discuss quality, we improve quality… we meet to accomplish our quality goals.” They send the message about quality all the way up, and down, and through, their entire team. What they discuss, what they decide, in top level meetings, is then distributed, cascading down throughout every shift team in the entire organization.
I have no doubt that quality, and all its related issues, are on the agenda day in and day out. The result – a great burger, a great shake, a great experience, and a Baldrige Award.
And one loyal happy customer from Dallas.
The point of all this: I have come to believe that the secret to reaching your goals is found through regular, well-run meetings. Yes, bad meetings — poorly run meetings — can be bad for everyone. But you cannot accomplish your goal(s) without talking about what people will actually do to accomplish the work required. In these meetings, they discuss what needs to be done next, by whom, by when, in regular, interactive meetings. Set clear standards, check progress, meet… then do; then meet, debrief, give out the next assignments, and go do…repeat,repeat, repeat. Over the long haul, you might develop better quality — you might even win a Baldrige Award.
“You accomplish what you meet about!” Yes, you do!
Deaths throughout U.S. history from Independence Day to Iraqi Freedom
Here is a listing of the estimates or totals thus far of U.S. casualties in the various conflicts that have been a part of our country’s history provided by the U.S. Army Military History Institute. The statistics reflect only reported war deaths and exclude those wounded and/or missing. “The Civil War still maintains the highest American casualty total of any conflict. Interesting to note the staggering number of losses in World War Two when compared to that of World War One – the former being the so-called ‘War to End All Wars.’ Then there’s the ‘Forgotten War’ in Korea – this nickname despite the near-37,000 reported casualties in the conflict.
“In its first 100 years of existence, more than 683,000 Americans lost their lives, with the Civil War accounting for 623,026 of that total (91.2%). Comparatively, in the next 100 years, a further 626,000 Americans died through two World Wars and several more localized conflicts (with World War Two representing 65% of that total). Using this comparison, the Civil War might very well be the most important war that America has ever fought.”
Major Conflicts and Totals
War of Independence (1775-1783) 25,000
War of 1812 (1812-1815) 20,000
Mexican-American War (1846-1848) 13,283
Civil War (1861-1865) 623,026
World War One (1917-1918) 116,708
World War Two (1941-1945) 407,316
Korean War (1950-1953) 36,914
Vietnam War (1964-1973) 58,169
Afghanistan (2002-2010) 1,084 and counting…
Iraq (2003-2010) 4,400 and counting…
Here is an excerpt from an article written by Scott Anthony for the Harvard Business Review blog. To read the complete article, check out the wealth of free resources, and sign up for a subscription to HBR email alerts, please click here.
* * *
One tried-and-true innovation trick is to look for analogies.
When you feel like you’re working on an intractable problem, find someone who has already solved the problem, but in a different context. Apply their learning to your situation, and see where it takes you.
Let’s practice by using this approach on the act of innovation itself. What do innovators do? At a basic level, they transform a blank piece of paper into a successful growth business. Can you think of anyone else who faces the same challenge? Architects would seem to fit the bill.
Think about how architects approach the blank-sheet-of-paper challenge. They don’t just start by building a business. Instead they sketch or create physical or computer models to bring their ideas to life. The design community calls this “rapid prototyping.”
Consider an example in Peter Sims’ excellent book Little Bets, describing how the famous architect Frank Gehry comes up with designs for new buildings. Sims writes that Gehry starts the design process by “literally cutting up, crumpling, and folding pieces of paper or corrugated cardboard with colleagues.”
“The initial prototype that emerges over an hour or so barely looks like a building,” Sims writes. “But it’s merely a starting point. They have begun and can work quickly and inexpensively to explore dozens of initial possibilities. Staring at it, Gehry smiles and says, ‘That is so stupid looking, it’s great.’”
Of course, truly great architects don’t just create compelling prototypes, or we’d consider Dr. Seuss one of the world’s great architects.
The mark of a great architect is a building that looks great when it is actually built. Gehry wouldn’t be considered such a legend unless he designed notable buildings like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
The same is true of innovation. I’ve seen many a would-be innovator work endlessly to polish or perfect their business plan. But the plan isn’t the thing. The business is the thing. Clever plans that can’t be commercialized are nothing more than dead trees.
* * *
To read the complete article, please click here.
Scott Anthony is the Managing Director of Innosight Ventures. Scott has written three books on innovation, the latest being The Silver Lining: An Innovation Playbook for Uncertain Times.
The pre-eminent leader of leadership studies
I have read and reviewed all of Warren Bennis’ books and read most of his articles. Therefore, I was especially eager to examine this volume in which Bennis collaborates with 20 guest contributors on creating what is best viewed as a retrospective examination of the themes, issues, crises, failures, and achievements that have guided and informed – in some respects defined – his life and career thus far. The material is carefully organized within six Parts, each of which has an organizing theme: My Life as a Leader, How Organizations Create or Thwart Leaders, On Becoming a Leader, Leadership as Performance, Cultivating the Leader in Others, and finally, Leadership and the Media. Bennis provideds a brief but remarkably enlightening introduction to each Part.
Presumably Patricia Ward Biederman (who co-authored Organizing Genius with Bennis and contributed “The Berkeley of the East” and “What Went Wrong”) also assisted with the editing of the abundance of the material. However, the dominant voice is Bennis’, as it should be, and he probably reveals more about himself (warts and all) than in any prior publication. I found all of the contributors’ articles well worth reading and especially appreciated these:
Scott Snook and Rakesh Khurana on “The End of the Great Man”
James O’Toole on “A Corporate Fear of Too Much Truth”
Note: O’Toole’s essay on “Speaking Truth to Power” in Transparency, co-authored with Bennis and Daniel Goleman, is a “must read” for all executives.
Frances Hesselbein on “Understanding the Basics”
Glenn Close on “Leadership as a Performing Art”
Bill George on “The Challenges of Leadership in the Modern World”
Jean Lipman-Blumen on “Followers Make Good Leaders”
Readers will also appreciate the Foreword provided by Charles Handy and the Introduction provided by Bennis. Although the narrative consists of 433 pages, most readers will probably review the Contents and then cherry-pick subjects that are most relevant to their own business needs and interests. However, there are several “gems” among the contents that I came upon literally by accident and would have otherwise missed. Either I did not recognize the author or assumed that the subject would be of little (if any) interest. I urge others not to make that mistake. There is not only “something for everyone in this volume,” there a great deal for everyone…and some of that requires a willingness to locate it and then an open mind receptive to what it offers.
In the Introduction, Bennis reflects on certain themes that have always fascinated him (e.g. “that bureaucracy was doomed”) and continue to fascinate him. In certain respects, his own contributions to this volume could be viewed (in aggregate) as memoirs but, in my opinion, they can – and should – also be viewed as a “map” of intellectual and emotional “territory,” much of which has yet to be explored. As part of the “Bennis Heritage,” therefore, I presume to suggest that the implicit challenges in this book are offered with a fervent hope that others will accept them with the courage, curiosity, determination, and humility that Bennis has demonstrated throughout his life and career. With all due respect to his achievements, those qualities are his “essentials.” Begin your own journey of self-discovery by allowing him to share his.