Anna and La Pendule: 4 ingredients that helped her business win

This is the written version (with some additions) of my presentation I delivered at the virtual Red Hat Forum on November 3, 2020. A recording of the session can be found here on YouTube. Please let me know your thoughts, questions, feedback, remarks, etc. in the comments. This is very much appreciated!

Welcome and thank you for investing your time to learn more about Anna and her restaurant La Pendule.

My name is Stefan van Oirschot and in my role as Chief Digital Advisor at Red Hat I’m a strategic advisor and sparring partner for CTO’s and CIO’s.

Being in IT for over 17 years, and working with Red Hat products for over 20 years, I have been involved in building, architecting and advocating for customers of all sizes. My background is computer science and during my professional career I have been in different roles varying from Solution Architect to CTO.

Before joining Red hat I was working for a Red Hat business partner and looking professionally at Red Hat’s Kubernetes distribution OpenShift, it was quickly clear that this was meant to be huge and a fundamental ingredient for awesome solutions. But wait, this post is not about products. It’s about combining people, processes and technology to unlock transformation and customer relevance!

Please allow me to share a little bit more about my past experience though. Back then, talking to customers, other professionals and colleagues more insights were found and a quick business plan built. For what? It was an early version of our company’s OpenShift-based service. Back in 2016, it provided a small suite of dev tools which could be easily deployed through self-service. Combined with our in-house managed services (SRE), training, onboarding services, and more, we knew we had the right ingredients for a developer-friendly container and microservices platform.

In 2017 I had the amazing opportunity to join Red Hat (Good to know that being part of Red Hat had long been my dream) and since then I’ve been able to use my experience of building platforms, and strong focus on user experience, in my customer conversations and breaking down the wall of confusing using the platform as an interface.

Today you will read about capabilities of a modern (software) organization, how they can be adopted, and how they relieve the users and help them become more effective, more motivated and more happy.

A metaphor of a restaurant is for illustration. The persona’s, challenges, observations and ideas in the story are very much relevant to the IT enterprises. Please let me know what you think of the mapping and what you recognize from your own organization!

Lets meet Anna!

Meet Anna & La Pendule
Meet Anna & La Pendule

Anna, 29 years young, comes from a long line of restaurateurs and chefs.

Founded back in 1782, La Pendule is located in the center of Paris, and has always been one of the finest restaurants in the city.

She has been told that La Pendule combines all the four essentials of an elegant room, smart waiters, a choice cellar, and superior cooking, and that this award-winning establishment has been a top ranking restaurant for years!

What could possibly go wrong…?! :)

The start of a new adventure…
The start of a new adventure…


Today is the first day of a new adventure for Anna. She takes over the restaurant from her uncle who has been a restaurateur of La Pendule for 40 years.

Looking forward to making this a success Anna arrives at the restaurant at 8 am to meet with the team.

Annabelle the Chef at La Pendule introduces the rest of the team:

“Meet Charlie the Kitchen Manager, Monique the Head Cook and Melvin the Head Server” she says.

Anna learns that the 5 of them together make up the leadership team of La Pendule.

After a quick introduction she proposes to sit down to get better acquainted.

Something is cooking…
Something is cooking…

Even though Anna has been visiting La Pendule for all her life she is very much surprised about the formal atmosphere and the lack of ownership within her team.

Being just a few hours into her new venture Anna already has quite a list of worrying observations!

How can we serve all these tables with quality foods and drinks with such a small and unequipped kitchen?

And what about these kitchen tools, not sure if any new employees would actually be able to use these.

The serving team does not seem to be talking to the kitchen people and vice versa.

And next to all of this the automated supply of fresh ingredients seems to be non-existing,

To top it off La Pendule is not connected to any form of social platform and absenteeism seems to be way above market average!

Anna really is clueless to the fact that this place has been successful for so long.

Superficial approaches don’t create lasting change.
Superficial approaches don’t create lasting change.

Talking to her team she quickly learns that things haven’t been going smoothly for quite some time… What did she run into!

There have been attempts to turn the ship around she learns.

An initial approach by her predecessor consisted of special rules, isolation, and incentives. But of course these only created temporary success. Unfortunately this success was not repeatable for business-as-usual.

She knew she would need to step up her game and that the clock was ticking…

La Pendule’s 5 failures
La Pendule’s 5 failures

Introducing the 5 elements we can identify what is going wrong at La Pendule:

From an overall lack of vision from general management to inefficient and ineffective processes in kitchen management.

Furthermore they come up with products that nobody wants and on top of that they cook things wrong and cook the wrong things.

Having identified these failures let’s start putting together a plan to turn the kitchen around.

“To measure is to know.”
“To measure is to know.”

To measure is to know. It all starts with having the right metrics…

Metrics should inform work practices. Otherwise, how do you know you’re working on the right thing?

Executives can’t mandate cultural change. Practices create culture. As organizations, we are what we do.

Culture is the missing piece for countless failed transformation efforts.

We believe that culture is built through action & behavior and “good culture” results from organizational transparency on goals and intended outcomes so basically, by focusing on these metrics, we will intrinsically be building culture.

A generative culture unlocks transformation, keeps you on top of market disruption, and leads to higher levels of business/mission performance.

Let’s revisit the 5 elements again and review them from an opportunity perspective.

Applying what the team just learned that “good culture results from organizational transparency on goals and intended outcomes” Anna confirms that direction & ambition is essential.

The team revisits the other elements as well and stresses that they want to build the right things, the right way and make doing the right thing easy.

Understanding the balance or often imbalance between the 5 elements.
Understanding the balance or often imbalance between the 5 elements.

The focus areas of the individual elements differ meaning their fundamental priorities will differ.

Cooks and Chefs want to be innovative and focus on change while Kitchen Management wants to provide them with a stable set of processes and securing safety and working according to regulations.

The elements also have a different focus where it comes to short term and longer term.

Elements are not roles, they are capabilities
Elements are not roles, they are capabilities

Multi-disciplinary teams adopt the 5 elements as capabilities. Elements are not roles and are not an individual’s responsibility but a team effort.

Within an organization or even an organizational unit, for example a department or a team, all these elements should be in place. They should be in balance & interacting to reinforce each other!

The 5 elements dynamic, an example
The 5 elements dynamic, an example

Let me give an example of the dynamic between the 5 elements and the customer:

The customer provides feedback about a dish, a serving, a beverage, the ambience which is input for the product team and, or the chef.

The chef builds an hypothesis for improving for example the menu.

The cooks and sommelier work with the hypothesis and find a way to deliver.

The Kitchen supports the production of the dish or beverage and the waiters serve the customer.

Guidelines are in place to make sure that everything happens the right way.

The leadership team and general management by Anna makes sure that everything they do is inline with their core values and helps them achieve their goals.

All the people in the team together cover the capabilities of the 5 elements, together making up the product, the service, providing the ultimate customer experience.

The research done by Anna
The research done by Anna

What did she find in her research…

Anna identifies 2 economies currently at play within her restaurant
Anna identifies 2 economies currently at play within her restaurant

Anna identifies that there are 2 economies at play in her restaurant.

The economy of differentiation with a focus on accelerated differentiation and the creation of value. This is mostly owned by the restaurant’s guests but also by the Chef, for example with his work of coming up with new dishes.

On the other end you have the economy of scale, mostly led by Kitchen Management but also by the serving staff. They focus on operational excellence and efficiency.

The 2 economies are actually two governing theories.
The 2 economies are actually two governing theories.

Anna quickly notices that these 2 economies are actually governing theories.

On the one hand we focus on speed without safety; focusing on new opportunities, new markets, doing things differently and probably have lots of changes.

The economy of scale wants to make sure all is safe but this seems to be coming at the cost of speed. They focus on the good and best practices, making everything resilient and standardizing as much as possible.

No compromise; we want to delight our customers
No compromise; we want to delight our customers

Anna and her team conclude that they do not want to compromise and that to be able to delight their guests they need to find a way to bring the worlds together, a 3rd economy; the economy of scope.

Doing online research she reads about constraints that enable innovation. The team agrees that they want to strike a balance between freedom & flexibility on the one end and standardization, safety and compliance on the other. The recommoning of resources and services.

The platform is the clutch that connects the 2 economies
The platform is the clutch that connects the 2 economies

The platform sits in the 3rd economy and acts as the clutch that connects the 2 economies.

The platform economy, the producers and the consumers on the platform, supported by the platform services make up the ecosystem where value of resources increases the more they are being consumed.

La Pendule should become a modern platform supporting a self-sustaining platform economy consisting of producers and consumers. New communication channels and ways to consume services are enabled here.

Suppliers deliver the predictable service to the platform. For example the fresh and quality ingredients. We use suppliers for example to eliminate redundancy.

Engineering means focusing on your true value add, your unfair advantage. So the build part in the build versus buy decision. In the case of La Pendule these are the services Anna and her team are delivering and supporting through the platform.

Confusion as an Interface
Confusion as an Interface

But what about the current situation?

Currently there seem to be unsupportive processes in place and an inflexible infrastructure provided by kitchen management.

The supply chain of ingredients is definitely not efficient and the quality of ingredients is not up to standard.

Next to that the cooks do not have the right materials to do their work.

The products the cooks deliver are not according to the specifications thought out by the Chef but also are not according to customer demand adding to the frustration of the serving staff.

And on top of all of this the cooks preparing the food have no way of seeing the end-result.

Platform as an Interface offering continuous compliance
Platform as an Interface offering continuous compliance

Going forward, anchoring the foundation in a platform as an interface we immediately can see benefits.

Giving the Cooks insights into how their work delivers value for the business by delighting customers results in lower absenteeism and a smaller chance of people burning out.

Kitchen Management delivers an optimized workbench, providing the required tools and allows the cooks greater accessibility making them more effective.

The quality assurance processes as well as the safety procedures have been optimized, fully automated and incorporated as part of a trusted supply chain allowing for continuous assembly to order as well as continuous compliance.

Anna’s trusted (software) supply chain
Anna’s trusted (software) supply chain

Anna and her team discovered a new way of delivering value to their customers.

Through her trusted supply chain she is able to excel in the area of customer intimacy as well as operational excellence.

The product staff embraced new methods in requirements gathering and design. Some of the practices they adopted are; behavior driven development, event storming, and priority sliders.

The kitchen personnel develops against these, using trusted quality ingredients as a baseline.

On committing a dish, it will always go through various stages in their workflow: For example automating quality, being able to provide a body of evidence to people in the loop.

But also authorizing the dish to go out and back to the team, rechecking the requirements backlog. This to ensure constant traceability.

Serving to the customer, the dish is now an end product that is trusted. The recipe is being updated and stored back in the trusted repos for re-use.

In the restaurant, we are performing continuous monitoring by the serving staff, again, with traceability to requirements, including feedback from users.

Anna: My Own “Wiki” to the rescue!
Anna: My Own “Wiki” to the rescue!

Anna’s close friend Sam, she often refers to him as “Wiki”, works as a transformation advisor in the IT sector.

He hears about Anna’s efforts of building a trusted supply chain and he chimes in sharing his experiences from building similar capabilities in the IT sector.

The 5 elements presented by Sam seem to have a big overlap with Anna’s.

Checking out the capabilities Anna sees she can learn a lot from Sam but that there are also specific capabilities for her industry.

Sam specifically highlights Wardley mapping as a practice which might be of interest for Anna. It’s an easy, accessible method for mapping out the value chain and exploring options for optimization.

She thanks Sam for his support and continues her journey together with the team.

4 critical measures for success
4 critical measures for success

To measure is to know, we learned before.

Research found, as can (also) be read in the book Accelerate, that there are 4 critical measures for success. These measures focus on market agility and reliability.

Take Lead time for Change.

In the restaurant this would mean the time from committing order to the time it has been served to the customer. Why is this important? Shorter is often better but, in this specific restaurant use case you might want to factor in the customer experience factor. Shorter is better though if you consider the fact that we want feedback as soon as possible to be able to make adjustments.

Another essential measure is the MTTR or mean time to recovery.

In short; how long do we need to recover from a failure impacting one of our guests. The reason that this is important is that we should always keep in mind that we want to keep the balance between fast delivery and being able to support without negative customer impacts.

Excelling in these 4 areas has a direct impact on organizational performance. Having a way to measure these indicators is essential to her restaurant’s success Anna concludes.

The (Pelorus) “restaurant” dashboard
The (Pelorus) “restaurant” dashboard

Before continuing to the next part of her plan for La Pendule she recognizes that she should definitely make her progress visible for her and the rest of the team.

She proposes to build a dashboard for everyone to see where they can plot the success metrics defined.

Tools can only be as good as the people using them.
Tools can only be as good as the people using them.

Anna realizes that process and technology is very important but there is definitely a lot more to improve regarding the People aspect of the organization.

She understands that tools can only be as good as the people using them….

Open organizations create sustained competitive advantage
Open organizations create sustained competitive advantage

An open organization empowers people at all levels to act with accountability. Instead of focusing on driving decisions and planning from the minds of a few.

We believe that the best ideas should get a chance and collaboration can pool collective wisdom, and that leaders are not determined by title.

Combining open technology and an open culture unlocks new business models and revenue streams and allows for a faster time to market.

Embracing the characteristics of an open organization allows for a transformation of culture, building an ecosystem of innovation.

Being Open unlocks the world’s potential…

The Open Organization key characteristics: TICCA
The Open Organization key characteristics: TICCA

The open organization can be seen as a framework consisting of 5 characteristics; Transparency, Inclusivity, Collaboration, Community and Adaptability.

Anna and the team quickly realize that work is to be done but that this can be done granularly through an iterative process working towards an open organization that works for them.

What they all agree on is that they want to let the sparks fly and for that they need to change.

Dojo: “The place of the way”
Dojo: “The place of the way”

The final element before putting it all together is the element of continuous learning and enabling a growth mindset.

A Dojo, “the place of the way”, is a place where a team works on the real product, the real project they are supposed to work on, actively coached by Dojo coaches.

They do the same work, with the same team, but in a different space and with different ways of working.

Benefits of a Dojo setup are for example the ability to introduce new practices and ways of working. But also to introduce new technologies and tools. Furthermore you Increase team autonomy and add continuous improvement focus.

Other benefits include a low barrier to onboarding new members or even new teams to existing product development, and also incubate and accelerate the development of new products with the use of all of the best practices and latest advancements in tech and tools available.

Putting it all together…
Putting it all together…

Combining all the ingredients Anna and the team come up with a plan for a phased delivery.

We want to have a delivery for sustainable outcomes. To achieve this we put together a phased approach to success.

We start small, focusing on all elements and working on people, process and technology.

Demonstrating we can deliver business value we scale up to the next phase, adding more capabilities. Gaining more experience and having built the necessary capabilities we publicly launch and celebrate our progress.

We continuously review our progress, our relevance and the value we are delivering while focusing on people, process and technology.

Some time passes and about 6 months later Anna and I meet again!

Anna tells me she has been invited to deliver a keynote at one of the larger gastronomy events to share about the awesome progress she made with her team and her restaurant.

La Pendule embraced the 5 elements and 3 economies delivering increased business value through people, process and technology
La Pendule embraced the 5 elements and 3 economies delivering increased business value through people, process and technology

Anna summarizes her findings and shares how she and her team made, once again, a winner from La Pendule.

By embracing the 5 elements and 3 economies they are delivering increased business value through people, process and technology.

The technical foundation has been anchored in a platform as an interface. They created an ecosystem which is being fed by the trusted supply chain, and embracing the characteristics of an open organization resulted in a change in behavior throughout the organization enabling a growth mindset and a continuous learning community.

Thank you very much for spending your time to learn about the story of Anne, La Pendule and the 4 ingredients that helped her business win.

Chief Digital Advisor at Red Hat | Creating organizational impact through Open Transformation

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