Friday, September 23, 2011

Your Employees Work Magic You Don't Know About...

I always listen to This American Life on NPR. Not long ago they reran a story that reminded me of people and process and how easy it is to under-appreciate all the dynamics that makes your business tick.

The story was about the Vienna Beef sausage company of Chicago, who made an excellent product and were a company on the grow. To handle their growth, they even moved to a bigger and better facility on the Northside.

Once they moved, the sausages weren't the same. It was the same recipe and the same process, but they didn't the same deep red color nor the snap and smokiness that made the dogs so popular.

Everyone knew it. For a year and a half after the move people pontificated about the reasons - was it the water? The new equipment?

No. It was Irving. Employees at the new plant remembered Irving, who did not move with the company to the Northside. His job, at the old plant, was to transport the sausages from the cold room, through a maze of hallways, through the boiler room, up the elevator, and to the smokehouse. Turns out, the sausages would warm up in the half hour trip. The new efficient facility didn't allow for this step. But it was the secret sauce! They have since fixed the issue, with a high-tech Irving Room to replicate his walk.

Are you sure you know what makes you successful? You usually don't get to see it as clearly as Vienna Beef. Don't forget the forces working beyond your spreadsheets, your process, and your equipment. Take some time to Manage By Wandering Around.