A timeless lesson on how consultants can make a difference for an
Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant.
After a while, we noticed that the waiter who took our order carried
a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange, but I ignored it.
However, when the busboy brought out water and utensils, I noticed he
also had a spoon in his shirt pocket.
Then I looked around the room and saw that all the staff had spoons
in their pockets.
When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked “Why the spoon?”
“Well” he explained “the restaurants owners hired Anderson Consulting, experts in
efficiency, in order to revamp all our processes. After several months of statistical
analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. This
represents a drop of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our personnel is
prepared to deal with that contingency, we can reduce the number of trips back to
the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift.”
As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it immediately
with his spare spoon.
“I’ll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to
get it right now.”
I was rather impressed.
Later I noticed that there was a very thin string hanging out of the waiters fly.
Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their
My curiosity got the better of me and before he walked off, I asked the waiter “Excuse
me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?”
“Oh, certainly!” he answered, lowering his voice. “Not everyone is as observant as
you. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the
“See” he continued “by tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out
over the urinal without touching it and that way eliminate the need to wash the hands,
shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent.”
“But, after you get it out, how do you put it back?”, I inquired.
“Well” he whispered, lowering his voice even further, “I don’t know
about the others, but I use the spoon