July 22, 2016

Lucia thought this wasn’t such a good idea

She was too polite to say it was awful.

People walking down the street are trying to open the door to this room. Then turning dashing across the street when it doesn’t open. I don’t know, maybe they’re trying to join me but then felt embarrassed or confused.

Customers ordering lunch are scratching their heads. Stacia, leading our communications at CloverFIN, is doing her best to explain things.

Customers are knocking on the glass and waving. The other day one just walked through the door that says “Ayr’s Office” and sat down at the conference table and made a phone call.

In the face of all this confusion I’m convinced this is one of the most important things I’ve done at Clover. I think 5 years from now this will be a totally iconic part of Clover. I think we’ll look back and see this as one of the most important decisions we made in this era of Clover’s evolution.

It’s just a room, with glass walls.

It’s made bold by the fact that practically all business is done behind closed doors. That’s how we did things for the past 5 years. We built restaurants with zero back of house, kitchens more transparent than anything in our industry. We built a commissary that invited customers to sit and take lunch surrounded by bread baking and hummus blending. We even opened up our food development process, with a weekly meeting that customers and staff are invited to attend. But we built the business in a windowless room with a door that kept others from looking in.

I saw this as a problem years ago but couldn’t figure out what to do about it until recently. Now we have a conference room that’s right in the middle of our largest restaurant. It’s awesome. Most people don’t get to see what it takes to build a business. For staff, customers, for many people it’s a mystery what I spend my time doing. It’s not clear what a Director of HR actually does each day.

So this my bold idea: do business in the open. Let everybody see. You’ll see ideas that don’t ever work out. You’ll see a sketch for the operational impact of our order ahead roll out. You’ll see a model for a restaurant we’re going to build in 18 months. You’ll see us thinking through our uniform strategy. It’s like a live real life version of what happens here when our blog is at its best.

We did install curtains. We had a board meeting in this room this past Thursday. And I wasn’t sure the board members would feel comfortable being on display. They all got it. Ron said he hoped we wouldn’t draw the shades. We didn’t. And we had our board meeting in the open. Welcome to the new Clover.

 

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