Leadership Coach Blog
Feb 6

Written by: The Leadership Coach
2/6/2012 6:58 AM  RssIcon

"American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class."

So, how do you get your people to identify a whole load of ‘olives’ – a simple change in purchasing or in operations that will save money without affecting service quality?

Here’s an exercise you can use to help your people ‘find the olive’. One of IHG’s GMs used this tool and reported that she and her team identified thousands of dollars in cost savings:

1. Share the American Airlines story, above, with your management team.

2. Task each one of them with cascading the story down through the ranks, explaining to people that their task is to ‘bring me an olive’ – a proposed cost-saving that will have no impact on service quality.

3. Ask the management team to each bring you back at least one ‘olive’ idea by the end of the week. Or, if you prefer to let them run it, do so, and ask them to let you know how it’s working.  (Adapt the exercise, based on how you prefer to lead).

4. Maybe recognize and reward the best ideas and act on them. If it works for you, make this a monthly or quarterly exercise and keep a tab on the accumulated savings.

PS There are of course, limits to this approach, so it’s only one string to your bow. As the business guru Tom Peters likes to say, “You can’t de-olive your way to greatness!”

The Leadership Coach*

*Who’s The Coach? He runs the The IHG  Leaders Lounge – a unique leadership development platform for hotels owned or managed by IHG.  And he’s our guest blogger, sharing leadership and business improvement tips here, for use in IHG-branded hotels.  Got a leadership question he might be able to help with? mailto:phil.dourado@ihg.com


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