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What a Restaurant Can Teach You About Collaboration: Page 2 of 3
Y’know, Restaurants Have Collaboration Too
One of the highlights from Frontiers was with the sit-down chat between NPR’s Guy Raz and chef Kyle Connaughton of SingleThread Farms. What could a restaurant possibly have to do with collaboration, you may ask? That was my initial take, but there’s a reason -- many really -- why Slack has been so successful , and this example is one of them.
I love cooking, but don’t have the Sonoma wine country pedigree to know about gems like this. As we learned, SingleThread Farms is one of only 15 Michelin 3-star restaurants in the U.S., and it’s now on my bucket list. Foodie heaven aside, this lofty perch is central to my writeup, because when you’re this good, your collaboration tools better be as well. That said, this has little to do with the technology, and everything to do with the outcomes that are a big part of the 3-star experience.
Without getting into the weeds, SingleThread takes the farm-to-table dining model to another level, and it’s not just about the food. Of course, the food is paramount, and Kyle explained the bigger concept where SingleThread isn’t just a restaurant, but also an onsite farm where much of the food is grown, and an inn for those who want a more immersive experience. At the risk of this becoming a travelogue, the vision shared by Kyle and his wife Katina is to provide an authentic, unique, and highly-personalized dining experience that goes beyond anything you’ve ever seen.
That’s the promise, and Slack plays a pretty key role in delivering it. No doubt Kyle could have gone on much longer with Guy, but here are some great examples to consider.
- The menu is customizable, and diners can specify their preferences, restrictions, and special requests. in advance. In collaboration parlance, this is a user-centric experience.
- Back at the ranch – a farm, actually -- the team in the fields forages for whatever the meal needs. Not only that, but with their smartphones, they can show the pick of the crop to the chef for final selection to make sure he/she has the best ingredients to use.
- This hyperconnected supply chain extends beyond the farm site. Kyle talked about his foragers going to the shore to gather seaweed, or going into the forest for wild food, garnishes and pieces for floral arrangements specific to an occasion.
- They even collaborate overseas, where a fishmonger in Japan will show them the latest catch that could be flown over and used for tomorrow’s menu. Knowing what’s coming, the kitchen can get a head start on planning a perfectly prepared seafood dish.
- Onsite, the wait staff uses Slack on their Apple watches to orchestrate and personalize the experience. Upon arrival, they’ll know the guests by name, by sight, any special needs/requests, their preferences for food or wine pairings, etc.
- All the details are identified, shared and coordinated in advance, and when guests arrive, there’s no need for staff to be checking their watches. Everything flows like clockwork, allowing staff to be fully present and engaged with guests. Likewise, all the guests need to do is arrive, relax, and enjoy the experience -- it all comes to them. I’m so there.
Think about all the things that could go wrong here without the right tools. You could still have a good dining experience, but it won’t be 3-star. There’s an endless amount of orchestration going on here, and the SingleThread team does it day in and day out. Unlike the workplace, where collaboration is one part of your day, the routine here must be sustained without fail.
Whatever technology is being used, the bar is very high, and to me, SingleThread is a great validation for Slack’s vision. As noted, Slack may call this collaboration, but it’s really about workflows and processes. The staff -- team, really -- at SingleThread performs so well mainly because these workflows are the job, and it’s the same every day. Is this a form of collaboration? Absolutely, but it’s different from how it’s defined based on what UC vendors are selling. As such, references to SingleThread being “collaboration” should be taken with a grain of salt -- that’s fair -- but more importantly, IT decision-makers need to take a critical view of how vendors are positioning their offerings in this space.
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