For all of you who frequent restaurants and understand
the need for the service to be faster, this short
story is a timeless lesson on how consultants can make
a difference to an organization.

Last week, we took some friends out to a new
restaurant and noticed that the waiter who took our
order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket.

It seemed a little strange. When another waiter
brought our water and utensils, I noticed he also had
a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around 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 restaurant’s owners hired
Andersen Consulting to revamp all our processes. After
several months of analysis, they concluded that the
spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil.

It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3
spoons per table per hour. If our personnel are better
prepared, 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 with his spare. “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 impressed. I also noticed that there was a
string hanging out of the waiter’s fly. Looking
around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same
string hanging from their flies. So before he walked
off, I asked the waiter “Excuse me, but can you tell
me why you have that string right there?"

“Oh, certainly!” Then he lowered his voice. “Not
everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I
mentioned also found out that we can save time in the
restroom. By tying this string to the tip of you know
what, we can pull it out without touching it and
eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the
time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent.

I asked, “After you get it out, how do you put it

“Well,” he whispered, “I don’t know about the others,
but I use the spoon."


Originally Posted On - a now defunct site. I moved the content here for posterity. The date of this post is the date that it was originally published on that site.