The Milkshake Moment

Just finished up reading “The Milkshake Moment” by Steven S. Little. This is an interesting, well-written book worth picking up.  It’s easy to read with short chapters and contains some interesting, and at times funny, insights into the world of processes…especially bad processes (those that bind the hands of employees/organizations).

The book’s entire premise is that while processes are necessary and provide value to an organization, you should make sure they allow ‘wiggle’ room for individuals who use those processes.  This wiggle room is necessary to allow people to be creative and innovative in how they solve problems.  Most organization’s don’t stress that employees be creative and use processes at the same time…they’d prefer that an employee ‘stick to the process’.

For example, the book uses the author’s attempt at ordering a milkshake from room service at a fancy hotel. The hotel didn’t have milkshakes on their menu and the room service personnel didn’t quite know how to handle the request.  The author asked if the hotel had milk, ice cream, a bowl and a spoon…the answer was yes.  The author ordered these items and made his own milkshake.

The author uses this simple example to point out that the room service personnel were stuck in a process and just because they didn’t sell milkshakes, they couldn’t provide one and didn’t have a ‘process’ in place to get one to the author.

The book provides a good overview of what it means to be process bound, but also steps into the role of trying to teach the reader how to take simple actions to change these processes to follow a more common sense approach.

  • http://www.allthingsworkplace.com Steve Roeselr

    Eric,
    I wish I had seen your post before running a process improvement meeting this morning; the milkshake example is a good one.

    Maybe a good process question to build into the repertoire, especially for unique customer situations, is: “How else can we deliver this product/service without actually producing it ourselves?”

    As you know from being in the consulting business, as a result of the trust relationship, clients will ask us for something that we don’t normally provide. Yet, we find ways to deliver the service even if it isn’t in our usual arsenal.
    Keep writing!

  • http://ericbrown.com Eric D. Brown

    Hi Steve. Thanks for the comment.

    I think the key here is using innovation and creativity to solve problems.

    Many organizations (at least the ones I’ve seen) don’t always ask their employees to be innovative…they want them to ‘follow the process’.

    As consultants, we can help these organizations understand that processes are good but allowing employees room to move within a process might deliver better results.