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Cutting Corners Equals Better Performance

Oct 3

So, there’s this famous behavioral learning study that gets performed over and over by various researchers. It’s basically the lever study in which if you learn to pull the lever something good happens. The classic is usually a monkey and the treat is a banana. Monkey learns to pull the lever and they get a treat.

The question always is, how long does it take or how many steps, can we train them in some way to do this quicker. Recently, a similar study was done with children and dogs. The researchers found they could train the children in five steps to they would get pretty good at pulling the lever and getting the treat.

The dogs, on the other hand, were another story! You see, dogs can be trained very well, but their natural instinct is not to follow rules, but to find the fastest way to gratification. The dogs mostly just went right for the box, tore off the lid, and got the snacks. Guess what? You don’t have to push down a lever if you rip off the top!

Dogs are good at cutting corners.

When I worked for Applebee’s we constantly spent time and resources training cooks how to cook new menu items. We built entire programs, did training sessions, had rewards, would go back and constantly check and test. It was critical that the Tequila Lime Chicken you ordered in Detroit was the same Tequila Lime Chicken you ordered in San Diego!

Problem was, the best cooks would always find ways to cut corners and do it as well, if not better, and faster! We would have it timed out and stepped out to the second and the data would start rolling in and show us that some kitchen in a location in Indiana is cooking it 45 seconds faster than everyone else!

It was our cooks that found if you take a skillet, turn it upside down over a piece of cooking chicken, you can cook that piece of chicken like a third faster without losing any moister or taste! At first, we pushed back in operations and sent memos out to not do this! It wasn’t “procedure”! Not soon after our test kitchen sent out specs on how to ‘dome’ chicken using an upside down skillet!

Cutting corners became the new procedure!

Organizations usually have an issue with folks who cut corners. It’s believed that cutting corners will lead to lower quality, less customer satisfaction, etc.

To me, many times, cutting corners is the first indicator that you’ve loaded in a bunch of waste into your process! Many times the people cutting corners are showing you there might be a better way of doing things, a faster way, an easier way. I’m a big believer in let’s not make this harder than we have to

Want to increase performance in your organization? Look for those cutting corners and determine are they just being lazy, or have they figured out a better way!

1 Comment to “Cutting Corners Equals Better Performance”

  1. I completely agree with this. If something hasn’t happened according to procedure, the question is why. Lots of times, we learn a better way and change procedure!

    Ane Ohm
    Oct 3, 2016

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