Panera Bread (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I got today’s title from Ronald Shaich, founder, chairman and all around biggie at Panera Bread. Well, actually I got it from an interview with him in the New York Times, conducted by Adam Bryant.
I was so impressed with what Mr. Shaich had to say about creativity—though he actually did not use that precise word even once—I am going to quote him extensively. Not only does that make writing this blog easier, it is great stuff; read it and see what I (he) means.
“We have not fallen prey to what happens in so many large companies: they let their “delivery muscle” — in effect, how they get work done — completely outweigh the “discovery muscle” of trying to innovate and find new ways of doing things. The delivery muscle, of course, feels rational, people feel much safer with it, and you can analyze it. It’s driven by market research that tells me what I can count on, and it’s very good for incremental change.
But when you are talking about companies that find new patterns, that have discovery, it’s about leaps of faith. It’s about trusting yourself. It’s about innovation. It’s about believing you can figure out where the world is going and that you will get there, and then saying we are going to go left and not right. The decisions are not necessarily rational or easy to defend. Even so, you need to take that approach. And, by the way, you’ve got to be right. It’s not enough to just talk this way, because your credibility matters. I would say that the driving force of this company is that our discovery arm is every bit as strong as, or stronger than, our delivery arm.
Another problem with focusing on delivery is that people start seeing the business only through their functional perspective. Then you see what ends up happening: nobody owns the whole. I am always blown away by the fact that in some organizations, everybody can say no and nobody can say yes. Saying yes takes a leap of faith.”
And one final quote from him: “I wanted to create the kind of organization that I would want my kids to work for…and that means no jerks.”
One way I can properly thank Mr. Shaich for his insights is to buy my lunch today at Panera, which, to be honest, I have never done.
You can thank him by taking his advice to heart. And I guess a small Panera soup and sandwich wouldn’t hurt.
Got the idea?