PwC Advisory A PricewaterhouseCoopers Perspective November 15, 2005 Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* PwC *connectedthinking
Preface • The Wall Street Journal challenged PricewaterhouseCoopers to draw on our expertise as Business Advisors to help a hypothetical home chef navigate “the big management challenge of the year” - Thanksgiving Day dinner. • So, we drew on our experience with some of the world’s largest and most complex organizations and applied what we do every day, to this annual domestic challenge. • Our first thought was, ‘Why does Thanksgiving have to be such a big deal?’ We think we have cracked Thanksgiving simplification, and we invite you to read on in the spirit of good holiday fun.
Thanksgiving is about enjoying time with family and friends. The way we see it, enjoyment is a function of a comfortable environment and satisfied guests. It’s just that simple. For many, the run up to the Thanksgiving Day feast is a frenzy of activity. Many make the mistake of plunging head first into shopping and chopping without thinking about how these activities truly drive comfort and satisfaction. After all, why run around like a turkey with its head cut off if you don’t have to? Why does Thanksgiving have to be so complicated? You get our point. Large organizations often fall into this same trap. They have overcomplicated their organizations with too many products, too many processes, and direct energy into non-strategic areas. It doesn’t have to be that way. Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification = Comfortable, Satisfied Guests
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification = Comfortable, Satisfied Guests • Complexity can lead to stress, which is the primary ‘damper’ to comfort and satisfaction at Thanksgiving. • We believe comfort and satisfaction can be maximized by applying the principles of simplification to Thanksgiving -- concentrating on the two key drivers of Thanksgiving complexity: • The number of dishes (i.e., products) • The number (and quality) of guests • Maximum comfort and satisfaction (and reduced stress) can be achieved by keeping these constraints in mind. The following slides outline how.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* On Determining the Optimal Number of Dishes… • Let’s face it, a lot of us over-reach at Thanksgiving. Why? • We try to impress guests with our culinary talents (Our view? You are not and never will be Martha Stewart.) • Our perceptions of what people want are not realistic. For example, if 3 dishes are good, then 5 must be better… right? Or you think ‘Uncle Norm gets cranky if he doesn’t get his pickled squash, so you make it for him. (Our view? You don’t have to please everyone, including Uncle Norm.) • You need to ease the guilt that has been building all year because you nevercook dinner, and here's the one chance to make it up to your family. (Our view? The family thinks the nightly takeout routine is just fine… and some members may prefer it that way.) • So what’s the lesson here? You’ve heard it before: Sometimes less is more. How do you decide how many dishes you should prepare? We propose the following simple analytics to determine the optimal number of dishes.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* The Burner Theorem On Determining the Optimal Number of Dishes… MAXIMUM # OF DISHES = (# OF OVENS + # OF BURNERS) – 1 Every kitchen has its limits. Given you are never going to make everyone happy anyway, take care not exceed your cooking capacity. Exceeding capacity, increases the likelihood of stress, and we already know that stress is not healthy. The Warming Tray Corollary to the Burner Theorem If you have a warming tray, we believe you can exceed your capacity (without increasing stress) by applying the Warming Tray Corollary. It goes like this….. Take the result from the Burner Theorem and multiply it by 1.25. This results in the optimal number of dishes. This Corollary assumes you have a functional warming tray available AND you have prepared at least 1 dish that can prepared/heated in advance that will retain at least 95% of its thermal energy in a warming tray for a minimum of 60 minutes. Candidates for such dishes are ones with higher fat content (yes, fat…. it’s not going to kill you) because food with higher fat content retains its thermal energy better than food with lower fat content.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Additional Comments on Optimal Number of Dishes and Capacity Planning • Capacity planning and production scheduling are generally driven through linear programming models. Capacity is limited by machine capacity (burners and ovens), cycle time, available labor, availability of materials, and need for production sequencing. Capacity can be enhanced through “pre work” and off line processing—this is why commercial restaurants use pre-cooked foods that are 80% cooked (hours or sometimes days before) and requires only the last 20% to be completed before serving. • Many foods served at Thanksgiving can be processed in the same way. Most cooks don’t understand these capabilities—hence the need for “A Plan,” which guides the team through a standardized process that puts a quality meal on the table in the shortest period of time with the least amount of effort—that is lean manufacturing. • And if you don’t buy that thinking, then how about this: We think that focusing on anything “lean” at Thanksgiving is good for you. It makes up for all that fatty food sitting in the warming tray.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* The Guest Capacity Theorem On Determining the Optimal Number of Guests… • The target number of guests can be derived by taking the lesser of the following two calculations: • Calculation #1: • TOTAL USABLE TABLE-SPACE SEATINGS = LINEAL TABLE SPACE (inches) • 24 (inches) • Calculation #2: • TOTAL USABLE CHAIRS = The number of chairs that fit comfortably beneath the TABLE-SPACE. For purposes of this exercise, “comfortably” is defined as 6 to 8 inches between the seat of the chair and the underside of the table. On the Qualitative Aspects of Guest Management Troublesome guests should be avoided at all costs. Our view? Simply, don’t invite them. They are only going to ruin your holiday anyway, so you might as well get the bad news out of the way sooner rather than later.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification through Standardization OK. Time to brace yourself for a little ‘Project Management 101.’ We’ll try not to make it hurt… here it goes. You can approach the preparation of a large meal like any major project. By their very definition, such projects are performed infrequently (remember, you never cook) and generally these projects include a team of people that do not routinely work together. The team members’ functional skills vary as do their ability to work in a high performance team. Major projects require leadership, communication, a detailed plan and appropriately skilled and trained team members. Because the people, production environment, and final product varies, the process must be madesimple through standardization. Here’s how we look at it:
5. Technology 1. Strategy 4. People 2. Structure 3. Process Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification through Standardization • Strategy: What is the strategy for this year’s meal? Is it low, medium, or a high level of effort? What about the customer experience—should you play it safe with a traditional menu? Do you want to hedge your risk and hit it down the middle with a modest experiment, say, deep-fry the turkey?. Or do you want to go for the gold with a high risk/high return strategy, like Asian fusion or ostrich / elk / wild boar for “center of the plate.” You need to understand your strategy and desired outcomes. • Structure: You have to consider structural components, like financial considerations (how much can the host afford to spend?); availability of exotic ingredients (does the hosts’ local grocery carry what you need?); the hosts’ kitchen infrastructure—double oven, microwave, electric or gas stove (individual cooks generally prefer one or the other), or the deep-fryer for the turkey.
5. Technology 1. Strategy 4. People 2. Structure 3. Process Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification through Standardization Process: An end-to-end tasked and timed detailed plan supports execution of the strategy. “The Plan” is critical to standardization and ultimately simplifying this project. (The Plan continuously leverages off prior years’ plans. The Plan is subject to continuous improvement and refined after the actual experience of each holiday meal). The Plan accounts for every minute task and detail, including detailed specifications for ingredients, cross-referencing to specific menus that have been tried, tested and perfected in prior years, digital pictures of final product and presentation, quantities prepared and consumed. The team should walk through the plan prior to the actual event, prototyping any changes from the prior year. New team members should be properly trained and supervised. Don’t forget to keep the pet rat locked in its cage…we don’t want Aunt Betty to faint into the mashed potatoes like last year.
5. Technology 1. Strategy 4. People 2. Structure 3. Process Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Simplification through Standardization • People: Competent leader identified prior to start of planning process. Roles and responsibilities assigned in accordance with the plan and skills assessed in light of Plan requirements. Supplement the teams skills and time availability, as needed, either through outsourcing (i.e., prepared foods) or hire a consultant or specialist (rent a chef). There’s also the idea of managing the expectations of guest to ensure everyone is aligned with what you have planned. For goodness sakes, make sure to tell Dad to not hog all the stuffing. • Technology: You should consider the various technologies you will need in advance. For example, you may want to consider a means of communication prior to the day of the event—e-mail addresses, cell phone numbers, and the like. The Team also should understand the limitations of the hosts’ kitchen equipment.
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* The Thanksgiving “Simplification” Food Pyramid If you can't avoid all together, use sparingly Troublesome Guests & Relations 2-3 Servings 2-3 Servings Managed Expectations Sourcing Strategies 3-5 Servings 2-4 Servings Know your guests Standardization Use abundantly; 6-11 servings An Attitude of Simplification
Howto simplify your Thanksgiving* Workplan GO LIVE
Credits • Joe Duffy, Partner • US Performance Improvement Leader • firstname.lastname@example.org • Dave Pittman, Partner • US Finance & Operations Simplification Leader • email@example.com • Dr. Robert Eccles, Senior Fellow of PricewaterhouseCoopers • President, Advisory Capital Partners, Inc. • firstname.lastname@example.org
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