Powerful Orchestration

At Tertiary Education, Steve Sherlock shares a gem of a story told by Chef Emeril Lagasse within Jonathan Tisch’s book, The Power of We. Sounds like a book I need to get.

The story Steve shares is one of how work can be orchestrated in simple ways that speak to collaborative teamwork, and how it translates to terrific customer service:

"Here’s a good one, " Emeril told us. "We have both a front waiter and a back waiter serving any particular table. One of our commandments for service is that your cocktail order should be taken within 15 seconds of your being seated. Now, how do we make sure that both waiters know whether the order has been placed? We use the salt and pepper shakers on your table. When you sit down, the two shakers are separated; when one of the waiters takes your drink order, he or she puts them together. That way you won’t be bothered by a second waiter asking you about drinks. It’s a little thing most people would never notice, but that’s what great service is all about— little things that add up to a big difference."

The story takes me back to thinking about the simple lessons I had learned about silent but effective signals while waitressing and how many there were; indeed, the restaurant business was a terrific training ground for me.

As I commented for Steve on his posting, we can get stuck at times thinking that we need big ideas, when all we really need is the consistent execution of small ones.

Think too about the power of this collaboration for those waiters; having that feeling of “We know something you don’t know, but what you do sense is how great we are at what we do.” If you are a manager, consider the ways you can help your own staff get that great feeling, where anyone who interacts with them is dazzled —whether customer, supplier, or another peer— to the point of saying, “Wow, how did they pull that off?”


  1. says

    Yes, indeed I do recommend the book Rosa. I am alittle over have way through and there is more to write about. Not yet quite as exciting as this story, but there are still pages to turn.

  2. says

    Simple Signals to Improve Teamwork

    Lessons from the Cafe
    Steve Sherlock at Tertiary Education shared a short story about the importance of providing signals in collaborative teamwork environments. The story, which comes from Jonathan Tischs book The Power of We, relates how Emeri…