Management “parables” seem to have become a bit of a thing in recent decades.

Consider such metaphorical management musings as The One-Minute Manager, Who Moved My Cheese?, Our Iceberg is Melting, and that customer service classic: The Fred Factor.

So this week, I offer a management parable of my own for your consideration…


When a diner drops a fork

When a diner at restaurant drops their fork, and asks for another, a good server will immediately bring its replacement.

A great server, however—simply upon hearing the fork hit the floor—will retrieve another, even before the diner has a chance to ask.

This is just one of the differences between good restaurant service, and great restaurant service.

If, however, this diner were to be treated the same way many managers treat their employees, the following is probably more likely to occur:

  • First, the server might reply: “Why are you asking me? Your table isn’t even in my section.”
  • Next, the server might inform the diner that he/she still has a perfectly good spoon, and that he/she should be grateful to have that.
  • After finishing up whatever it was that he/she was doing at the time (even if it’s just texting), the server might then begrudgingly get the diner another fork.
  • Before handing it over however, the server would almost certainly remind the diner that forks DO NOT grow on trees, and that he/she should be more careful next time.
  • Finally, after relinquishing the utensil, this server might warn the diner that if he/she plans on making a habit of dropping silverware, perhaps it’s time to start looking for another restaurant at which to dine.

(For added effect, this would all be done in presence of other patrons, so that they too might “get the message.”)


See you next Friday.