Recently I stopped by a coffee shop with outdoor seating to enjoy the spring sunshine whilst partaking in a quick caffélatte. To expedite matters, I ordered (and paid) at the counter and was assured they would bring my beverage to me shortly.
As I waited, and waited, and waited, and waited, watching some four waitresses taking more orders or staring dubiously at the till – my patience growing increasingly thin by this point – I finally returned to the counter and asked whether my drink was ready yet, and if so, could I take it to the table myself. It was already some fourteen minutes since ordering. And it most certainly was not a rush hour or lunch hour crowd either.
The woman behind the counter looked up at various tickets tacked to the shelf, and declared, “But there are ten orders before yours, we will be with you as soon as possible.”
Had I not already paid my money, I would have left there and then. As it is, I returned to my table, sat down, and five minutes later my tepid drink arrived, delivered by the counter woman no less.
“We are very busy,” was the excuse she offered.
“Really?” I replied. “You also have a full-blown industrial coffee machine there, capable of producing four hot drinks simultaneously, with a single person operating it and instead delivering one drink at a time. Being familiar with such machines myself from my days as a waitress, I know that better efficiencies would have two people working it, producing multiple drinks in a continuous, effortless flow. ‘Busy’ does not come in to the equation. Have you ever been to a bar in Italy?”
The woman smiled and took her leave quickly. It was pretty obvious that she was not the owner, otherwise our conversation might not have fallen on such deaf ears.
So why the story? Simple analogies can work wonders when trying to get a point across. In this case what struck me was an easily rectifiable problem. More individuals in the engine room focusing on the production line, less on the floor unable to deliver promised goods without accompanying excuses. Given that the café only had some twelve (very small) tables in total, including those outside, it is hardly a difficult mathematical equation.
Change management is about analysing what is good about your business as well as what could do with improvement. It is about looking at individuals’ strengths and weaknesses within the company and how to leverage the former and improve the latter. It also brings to the fore how better, more aligned practices within the company itself can promote a clearer message – and thus vision – of where you are going and how you intend to get there.
Most importantly, change management is not just about agreeing a strategy and plan for your business to grow, it is also about helping you implement it with the right people.
Now, if I had not been in such a rush I might have offered to step behind the counter myself at the aforementioned café, and show them how coffee-making is done. Effectively.