The Breakfast Plan Goes Awry

Andy Warren, 2010-06-29

Here’s the editorial for SSC today and while it’s a humorous story about asking for donuts and getting a free breakfast for everyone, it’s also a cautionary tale for those trying to do good as managers, and even for employees submitting suggestions.

Looking back, I still think it was a fair suggestion in response to a request for ideas, I think putting a couple dozen whatevers on the CIO’s desk every Fri morning is a great way to encourage cross team chat, and a chance for the CIO to get some face time with people they don’t get to see as much as they’d like.

At the time money was plentiful and so throwing cash at the idea to satisfy those who wanted yogurt, but in leaner times, could the goal still be accomplished? I think so, and one easy way might be to:

  • Rotate through the team, having each person take a turn at picking up breakfast. Maybe even let them come up new breakfast sources to use the $30 or so budget. Nothing like having to get up a little early to stop and get the food to make you appreciate someone else doing it (and someone else paying for it!)
  • Try to accommodate the ones who don’t want a chocolate covered donut, but not to the point of craziness. Not the end of the world if everyone knows this Fri is donut day and if you’re on a diet, you bring your yogurt or banana or whatever. As long as they aren’t excluded too often, it works.

Beyond breakfast though, this can happen with any idea. Start with a basic idea and before you send it in, stop and think about it. What is the real cost? Who will do the work to make it happen? Is it inclusive, or just something that benefits a small subset? Can you find a way to derive more than just good will from it?

Of course, Steve Jones should have posted this on Friday with a coupon for all the SSC readers to get a free donut!





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