Good Food, Great Experience – When culture and strategy dine together.

Good Food, Great Experience – When culture and strategy dine together.

– By Damian Killen

If I want to know an organisation, I want to speak with three people – the receptionist, the CEO and the cook.  I want to see the face, the head and the guts of the organisation.

Recently while on holidays we had the good fortune of having a fantastic meal.  We ate in a Michelin starred pub – yes a pub!  It was The Sportsman’s Bar in Seasalter in Kent, England.  I wonder was the Michelin star given begrudgingly, as there were no white tablecloths, no silver salver.  Instead there were bare wooden tables, the menu written on a blackboard on the back of a door (that had to be read and ordered from before being seated) and of course just simply outstanding food.

As many will know, I have a keen interest in food, so I can’t help sharing some of the super dishes we enjoyed (if you don’t share this obsession, just skip to the next paragraph!). Starters included poached duck egg in a hollandaise sauce served with rocket and green beans and smoked mackerel served on homemade brown soda bread with horseradish sauce and gooseberry jelly; followed by hake served with an exquisite tomato sauce and melt in the mouth lamb; finished off with a chocolate fondant with salted caramel that was to die for. We were spoiled with extra homemade ice creams (and were even given their recipe for the strawberry ice cream, as we had told the waitress this was a passion of ours).

I could go on, but I am no food critic; I’m a consultant!  So, as delicious as the food was, what impressed most was how the experience worked from start to finish.  The front of house staff were informal, helpful and appeared to enjoy their job. Without meeting anyone from the kitchen, the overriding feeling was that this was an organisation working in unison to provide the customers with an experience that they would want to repeat.  The organisation was aligned.

 I have worked with many organisations using a process called Strategic Alignment[i] in which we use a few simple 20 question questionnaires to plot how aligned the organisation is.  We look at the environment in which the organisation operates and in particular at their customers and their needs/desires.  Having plotted this we then look at Strategy, Culture and Leadership and plot the level of alignment.


In every instance, those participating find the one or two nuggets – insights that will help them be successful and gain competitive advantage.  In addition, the process ensures that all involved go through the diagnosis and decision-making together.  The actions and outcomes are owned by everyone.

With alignment, the customer experience is enriched and the staff experience is enhanced.

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[i] Originally developed by the Centre for Corporate Strategy in Australia.