Episode 37 — Innovation at Chick-fil-a — Part 1

Episode #37
Original Air Date: 07.05.2017

31 Minutes

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Our Guest This Episode: Steve Nedvidek

Innovation specialist, Steve Nedvidek, joins Manage This to discuss why innovation and successful projects are vital to Chick-fil-A.

For more than twenty years, Steve has been the Innovator in Residence for Chick-fil-A. He is responsible for helping to build the innovation muscle within the organization, and his primary duties are geared toward creating a culture of and competency for innovation at Chick-fil-A. Prior to joining Chick-fil-A, Nedvidek received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from Wingate University and a Master of Arts in Theater from Wake Forest University.

Steve discusses how preserving core values while stimulating progress must go hand in hand. Tune in to hear how Truett Cathy built the empire that Chick-fil-A is today.

Favorite Quotes from Our Talk:

"One of the ones that we keep coming back to is any business that sticks has to do two things really well:  one is preserve the core; the other is stimulate progress.  And those two things really are connected, and you have to be able to do both of them at the same time.  Got to walk and chew gum at the same time."

- Steve Nedvidek

"So what was going through Truett’s mind at the time is, so how do we stimulate progress?  So how do you things differently in order to create more margin at tables so that I can sell more product?"

- Steve Nedvidek

"That’s where this great dynamic tension and marriage comes to play between the innovator and the project manager because they can’t exist without each other."

- Steve Nedvidek

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ANDY CROWE ● BILL YATES ● NICK WALKER ● STEVE NEDVIDEK

NICK WALKER:  Welcome to Manage This, the podcast by project managers for project managers.  Every two weeks we meet to talk about the things that matter to you in the dynamic and constantly evolving domain of project management.  We know the challenges you face.  And it’s our hope that we can help you learn to meet those challenges and even prosper from hearing the experiences of others who have gone before you.

I’m your host, Nick Walker, and with me are the two guys who are responsible for most of the learning around here, Andy Crowe and Bill Yates.  And Andy, we have in the studio with us someone whose job it is to make your stomach growl and make your mouth water for one of the most popular fast foods on the planet.

ANDY CROWE:  That’s right.  And to make my stomach turn a little bit sometimes with the creative ideas that I have to figure out how to do.  So it all works.

NICK WALKER:  Well, let’s get into “As the Stomach Turns” this morning.  So all right.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s a great title for this.  Wow, I’m so fortunate to be here today.

NICK WALKER:  Steve Nedvidek.  You’re the senior manager of learning and development and innovation specialist for Chick-fil-A, Incorporated.  Steve, you’ve been with the company since 1988.  You’ve worn a number of hats:  film and video producer, marketing consultant, and program manager.  And it’s my understanding that in your current role you teach; you coach; you facilitate sessions that help staff members solve the tough business problems that come up.  But you’re also on the Board of Directors at the Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta and on the Innovation, Creativity & Entrepreneurship Council at Wake Forest University.  Steve, welcome to Manage This.  What a lot of hats you wear.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  I guess that’s either because I have a big head or I’m not good at anything.  But thanks, Nick.  I appreciate being here and spend this time with Andy and Bill.  It’s going to be great.  Looking forward to it.  Really do appreciate the opportunity.  And we have a lot to talk about.  So let’s jump in.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, yeah.  You are an innovator at a company that does $8 billion in sales every year, I understand.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Right.

NICK WALKER:  And you work with other innovators who dream big and bring creative ideas for new products and services.  And from what I know of Chick-fil-A, and from what I’ve tasted of its products, it seems to be a company built on innovation.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.  Actually, innovation is really in our DNA.  And it started with our founder, Truett Cathy, who was just wired that way.  You can call him an innovator.  You can call him an opportunist, an entrepreneur, just a big creative guy, whatever you want to call him; but he was all those things.  And it’s been an interesting journey over the last 30 years to see how the organization has moved and shifted within that culture for this one man who started with one restaurant in 1946 to create this giant chicken company.

BILL YATES:  How many restaurants are there today?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Oh, there’s 2,000 plus.  Yeah, at some point in time you just kind of stop counting, you know, because every day you get the email, oh, we just opened up this one; we’ve just opened this one.  Now we’re looking at where are the interesting places that we’re opening where we haven’t been before.  So suddenly a restaurant opens up in Detroit, my hometown.  That’s very interesting because we didn’t have any there.  Or you’re thinking about going internationally.  That’s interesting conversation to have.  Selling a lot of chicken.  People are eating more chicken.  That’s good.

NICK WALKER:  Yeah, eat more chicken.  So, you know, innovation doesn’t happen overnight.  It’s a process.  Can you tell us a little bit about how that began?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Well, for Chick-fil-A, having the DNA of your founder being in the camp of innovation is a blessing because it allows you the freedom to really want to try things, to want to grow things, and to want to develop things.  But our journey hasn’t always been a journey of innovation.  In fact, there were many, many years where we were really more of a culture of continuous improvement versus a culture of innovation.  So that the journey of getting to where we are now, where we’ve had to create a discipline and a process for innovation, has been decades long.  But it’s a really great story.

ANDY CROWE:  But you know, Steve, when you talk about the culture of continuous improvement, that is a second cousin to innovation in general because there’s this idea that things stay static.  We have continuous improvement in our DNA.  That’s part of what we do.  So we’re constantly changing and improving our products.  But it’s every single time we touch it, you know.  Every single time we come back, we try and improve.  When you look at that, it’s a leap to innovation.  But it’s not completely different; is it?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  No, it’s not.  It’s not.  In fact, we consider continuous improvement to be a form of innovation when we talk about it and when we teach it.  It’s just it doesn’t stop there.  And the level of risk that you have to be willing to kind of choke down when you’re trying to get into a breakthrough or disruptive innovation, that’s just tougher for some people.  It’s tougher because where their business model is in their history, and then sometimes it’s just tougher for people based on their wiring.

I married an accountant, you know, and I love her to death.  But I don’t want her sitting around the kitchen table while we’re having an ideation session.  She breaks into hives, you know.  It’s just she’s not wired that way.  But she’s got to be the one that’s constantly tweaking, moving, and improving the books of the family as we go on, or we’re not going to make any progress.

So those two things, Andy, you’re right.  I mean, they are cousins, and they have to work together.  You know, one of my favorite lessons learned is from the book, “Built to Last,” which is Jim Collins’s book on how brands and organizations stay relevant over time.  And in that, among the lessons that he teaches, one of the ones that we keep coming back to is any business that sticks has to do two things really well:  one is preserve the core; the other is stimulate progress.  And those two things really are connected, and you have to be able to do both of them at the same time.  Got to walk and chew gum at the same time.

ANDY CROWE:  It’s fascinating and very relevant for right now because you look at one of these brands that was one of the most disruptive brands imaginable a hundred years ago, Sears and Roebuck, is now fighting for their life.  They’re struggling to stay alive.  So here they were disruptive and innovative early on with catalogues, and they got completely behind the ecommerce idea, behind the ball on that.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.  That’s right.  And continued to do, you know, or at least do bricks and mortar.  And I don’t know when the last time you went into a Sears store was.  I mean, I’ve been in one probably within the last six months, and it was to actually return something from Lands’ End, not to actually buy anything.  And you just look around, and you just – you kind of feel bad.

ANDY CROWE:  Yeah.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  You know, it’s like here’s somebody that’s struggling for identity.

ANDY CROWE:  And so it’s your job not to let that happen at Chick-fil-A.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah, that’s right, my job to be a catalyst, to encourage people to move out, to step forward, to risk stuff, to try things, to be creative.  So I get a chance to teach and coach to all that, and it’s a lot of fun.

BILL YATES:  Steve, going back to Truett Cathy and so way back to 1946?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  1946 is when he opened the Dwarf Grill, yeah.

BILL YATES:  When he opened his grill.  So he must have been tinkering with the formula, you know, continuing to make tiny little tweaks, and then asking customers that come into the restaurant, you know, what do you think?  Do you like today’s sandwich better than last week?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Right.  Right.

BILL YATES:  Do I have two pickles or three, you know, there’s so many little tweaks that he was making.  When I think about those two concepts of preserve the core and stimulate progress, when you look back on some of the decisions that Truett made early on, how can you reflect back on that and see, okay, here’s some examples of how he was modeling that out for us?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Oh, yeah.  Well, Truett, when he opened the Dwarf Grill in 1946, he was intending to open it with his brother.  They had just gotten out of World War II.  His brother Ben and Truett, they had gone into business together.  And then his brother Ben was unfortunately killed in an accident.  And then Truett was by himself, not married, trying to struggle through running a restaurant.  And he didn’t know how to do that.  I mean, he had seen his mother have, like, a hospitality kind of lodge back when he was growing up.  So they had boarders and stuff in their house.  So he understood concepts of service in hospitality, but he’d never run a restaurant before.  And so he had to lock down a lot of things there.

But the Dwarf Grill was very small.  So it was right across from the Ford plant and the Delta, the Delta business in Hapeville, Georgia.  So it had to be open all the time because you had third shifts that were running.  So the first six days of the week he was running 24 hours a day, and got up on a Sunday morning and couldn’t get out of bed.  And that’s where the “Closed on Sundays” thing came from.  But in those early days of just trying to figure out how to run a restaurant, I’m sure that’s what he spent his time doing.  There’s not a lot of time to rethink things.  You’re trying to serve eggs.  You’re trying to serve sausage and bacon and, of course, fried chicken, which is very popular in the South.  And so you’re just kind of running the play every day.  You don’t really have time to think through things.

But what caused him to change his business actually happened in the ‘60s.  It was in the early ‘60s when he began to realize that he wasn’t going to be able to grow his business beyond the small restaurant that he had unless he changed some things.  And here’s what I mean by that.  The number one thing that was really selling on the menu was fried chicken.  And it takes a while to cook chicken on the bone.  So the problem that he had was he wasn’t turning tables fast enough because people would order fried chicken, it would take six-and-a-half minutes to cook it, and then they’d have to wait, and they’d eat.  So you’re locked by capacity; right?

So what was going through Truett’s mind at the time is, so how do we stimulate progress?  So how do you things differently in order to create more margin at tables so that I can sell more product?  And he had some friends who had some chicken filets that he began to toy with and tinker with.  And you talk about the ability to really do something that is an experiment to try, you know, a spike type of a moment where he’s just tinkering with things.  He’s tinkering with a filet of chicken.  And he can do that on the fly.  He can do that in a very nimble way because he’s just one restaurateur and realizes that he can take the cooking time down to two-and-a-half minutes.  And he puts it on a toasted, buttered bun with a couple pickle slices and creates a walk-out product that you can eat as you travel or that allows you to eat it faster at the table.  So suddenly that need, that real business need of turning tables became an opportunity for innovation.  And that changed everything.  And that was the birth of the Chick-fil-A sandwich.

BILL YATES:  Wow.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  And that was early ‘60s.

BILL YATES:  So he’d been going at it for a while before he had that breakthrough.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  He’d been going at it for a while, absolutely.  Yeah, yeah.  And that was – it was, you know, necessity, necessity the mother of invention, I guess.  But that was the moment where he began to think really differently about what he could accomplish.  And then you, of course, had the mall restaurant in 1967.  Even the creation of the name Chick-fil-A and the logo, the “A” at the end of the logo or the name Chick-fil-A, is Truett’s idea.  He wanted it to be A-1, A+, Grade A.  And so he did a little riff on the word “filet,” and it became that.  And that…

BILL YATES:  Did Truett call it a “riff”?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  He probably didn’t call it a riff.  I’m not sure that he did that.  But he knew what he wanted.  Truett always knew what he wanted to try.  And so even the first operator agreement, which is the franchisee agreement that we have, was the creation from the mind of Truett, which was a business need.  How can I clone myself without figuring out how to go work in another restaurant?  And so he created a business model that allowed people who wanted to be in business for themselves, but not by themselves, to kind of come in and run a restaurant with sweat equity versus the financial capital.

BILL YATES:  Steve, one of the things that I think project managers struggle with, especially with small startup companies – and those are so hot right now.  We can all think of examples of those.  But one of the struggles for the PM is to come alongside someone like a Truett Cathy who has this new idea, and try to help them, you know.  So Truett reached a point where he said, okay, I think I’m on to something here, and I can expand this beyond one store.  I can, you know, I’ve really – I’ve uncovered something.  But I need help, and I need people to help expand this out.  I think a struggle for PMs is how do I gain the trust while also seeing the vision and making sure that I’m aligned with the vision of this creator and gain their trust so that now I can go implement and take it to the next level.  How did that play out with Chick-fil-A?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Well, with Truett, you know, in those early days as he was toying with, not just the sandwich but the first mall restaurant, the Greenbriar Mall in 1967, he saw the wave of opportunity in the malling of America.  And what he needed as an entrepreneur, as an innovator, was people who could execute.  And that’s where this great dynamic tension and marriage comes to play between the innovator and the project manager because they can’t exist without each other.

ANDY CROWE:  Right.

BILL YATES:  Right.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  They really can’t.  Especially to take new ground.  And you have to learn how to be able to work together.  And that probably means, as an innovator, if you are the founder of a new company or a startup, that you have to realize that the people that you need to hire are not going to look just like you, and they’re not going to have the strengths that you have.  And you have to realize that you need somebody to complement you, not to replicate you.

ANDY CROWE:  You know, Steve, one of the things – we’re very involved in the not-for-profit community, as well, Velociteach is.  We do a lot of work with local not-for-profits.  And something you find there that reminds me of what you just said is a lot of times with the not-for-profits the traditional path is you find that they have a lot of passion, and not always a lot of process.  And sometimes they strongly resist process.  They feel like it constrains them.  It locks them in.  And so a lot of times that’s a value I can bring is to try and bring what the Agile world would call “barely sufficient,” a barely sufficient process, to some of the not-for-profits that we work with and support, to try and help them get into a replicable, repeatable, sustainable mode out of that.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.

ANDY CROWE:  But you don’t want to, at the same time, you don’t want to – too much process will crush innovation, absolutely will.  It’ll crush passion.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.

ANDY CROWE:  Those two, they overlap a lot, don’t they.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah, they do.  And it’s not like an equation.  I mean, it’s not the kind of thing that you can say you need this plus this equals this.

ANDY CROWE:  It’s a dynamic tension.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  It is a dynamic tension.  And I’m with you, Andy, because I’ve worked on, you know, a couple of opportunities with nonprofits, as well, and find the same thing to be true.  Nonprofits need business people to help them figure out process stuff because that’s not necessarily what they’re gifted at.  And you’ve got to be wise enough to know what to let go.

And in Truett’s case, what he was wise enough to do is to find somebody in the person of Jimmy Collins, who wound up being, you know, the president of the organization later on, somebody who will tell you straight out – because I get a chance to have breakfast with him from time to time, and he’s a great, great person – and say, “I’m not a leader.  I’m just a good follower.”  And his desire wasn’t to be a leader to replace Truett.  His desire was to get into Truett’s mind, know what he wanted, and then know how to go figure that out, execute that.  And Truett used to tell him all the time, you know, you’re not here to solve problems.  You’re here to prevent problems.

BILL YATES:  Nice.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  So, you know, as a project manager you have to think about that, you know, and how do you think ahead so that you’re not putting things out there that are going to be – that are going to blow up.

ANDY CROWE:  And how do you channel innovation?  If you let it run unconstrained, you’d have 2,000 restaurant operators who are innovating with recipes and coming up with their little tweaks, and you don’t want that.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.

ANDY CROWE:  But you do want to provide conduits for that kind of creative energy, as well.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.  And Truett believed always that part of his role was to give the operators of Chick-fil-A restaurants enough leverage to go do and be and operate within their communities because they all were going to have different situations.  And Truett didn’t want to get in the weeds, but he wanted to have their backs so that they always knew that they could go to Truett with, you know, problems or issues.  But Truett was going to encourage them on some ideas and how to solve those things, but not going to solve it for them.  And that’s where, when you’re creating the model, you talk about “nail it and scale it”; right?  So the model’s created.  Truett worked on the model.  But then how do you scale it?  And when Jimmy comes onboard, and others like him who are gifted in execution and consistency, that’s how you scale.

One of the favorite stories about Jimmy Collins is, you know, he would go into every single Chick-fil-A restaurant, when he made a restaurant visit, with a spoon, and he would taste coleslaw.  The first thing he would do would be to open up coleslaw and taste coleslaw.  And as an operator, you hoped that that coleslaw had just the right amount of dressing in it, wasn’t too dry, wasn’t too wet; you know.  And he knew that the requirements and the consistency was going to be really, really important in order to scale a chain.

And so the folks that were hired in the ‘70s and the ‘80s, many of whom are in senior management now, are gifted with that ability to do those things that preserve the core piece, the ability to manage the day to day toward consistency and excellence.  And toward incrementalism, you know, and continuous improvement, which are all things you need when you’re growing the enterprise.  And then there comes a time when you get large.

BILL YATES:  Yeah, Chick-fil-A’s gotten large through the years, yeah.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah, yeah.  I’ve got a good friend who says it this way.  It’s like there was a time when we stopped being the hunter, and we became the hunted.  And when you think about it, and what Chick-fil-A has had to, you know, we’ve got people that come right after us now who are copying recipes or copying growth models, copying locations and places where they put, you know, restaurants.  And we kid about a lot of that stuff, but it’s true.  So at that point in time when you’re the, you know, the hunted, you have to do things differently.

There’s an inherent difference between Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny, when you think about it.  One is cautious.  One is very conservative in their approach.  They’re slower to move.  They fly under the radar screen.  And one is nimble and fast, and they’re making quick decisions.  And so when you have a large organization that suddenly has to do that, you know, go from being a cruise ship to a speed boat mentality, that’s tough because the people that you have in leadership are not used to that, you know.  That’s not really the giftedness that they have or that they bring.

ANDY CROWE:  Well, you’ve cultivated operational excellence in tasting coleslaw, and now you’ve got a really tightly defined spectrum of what that coleslaw should taste like.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.

ANDY CROWE:  Jim Koch, the founder of the Boston Brewing Company, says he still tastes every single batch of Sam Adams.  I’m not sure whose job I’d rather have.  But the idea now to move and become nimble, and now you’ve got to be quick and agile, that’s a tricky thing because you’ve just built all these processes.  There are people, there are departments that exist, I guarantee you, to make sure that the recipes are consistent, that the tastes are consistent, that everything falls within, you know, quality control, inspection, things like that.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.  Yes, that’s right.  I mean, you think immediately of a department like operations, you know, field operations, which is concerned about those requirements and things.  But I will tell you that, when you are part of a large organization that really is built on the back of consistency and excellence, it’s not just operations.  I mean, every department, you know, has a big stripe of that “preserve the core” in it, even marketing.  You’ve got to break out and be willing to try things you’ve never tried before.  You’ve got to be willing to take risks.  And it’s hard when your mantra has been “excellence” because taking risks means sometimes falling short, sometimes failing, sometimes breaking things.  And that can rub folks the wrong way when they’ve been kind of under this umbrella of excellence for so long.

Now, it doesn’t mean that excellence goes away.  It just suddenly has to coexist with “stimulate progress.”  And so that’s where you need new talents, new people, folks who can solve problems, folks who think differently; and they have to be able to work together.  So you’ve basically created this whole culture of project managers.  Now you’re bringing in innovators to layer on top of that.  And then you’re looking around the landscape going, okay, so how do we do this?

ANDY CROWE:  This is lions and hyenas.

BILL YATES:  Right.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

BILL YATES:  Yeah.  If I’m, as a project manager, if I’m Elmer Fudd, and you’re Bugs Bunny…

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah.

BILL YATES:  Which do I really want to be?  So how do you create a culture where both are respected at Chick-fil-A, and they see each other as peers?

ANDY CROWE:  Where they can both thrive.

BILL YATES:  Right.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Well, that’s a great question.  And I think part of it is, you know, systems and process and definition and a lot of things that we do.  But at its core it’s about trust.  At its core.  One of my very best friends in the organization retired back in January.  And when you get to be 30 years in an organization, you know, you realize you’re toward the end, not toward the beginning of your career.  And a lot of your friends that were with you, you just have had decades to build relationships and trust.  So the buddy of mine that retired in January, we both spent years and years and years in the marketing department.  And we would laugh because of our relationship, with him being the brake.  He’s very deliberative, very much a project manager type of mentality.  And I’m an innovator, and I’m the gas; you know?  And so he’s the brake, and I’m the gas.

But it was through getting to know each other, getting to trust each other, and know when he’s going too slow that I could say, “Hey, dude, come on, we need to speed up.”  And he knows, when I’m going too fast, when to slow me down.  And those are the things that you can’t prescribe.  That just happens when you value people who are different than you are.  You spend time with them, and you begin to trust and understand that they’re not trying to blow up your world, and you’re not trying to blow up theirs.

BILL YATES:  Steve, you mentioned Jim Collins.  And one of the things I keep coming back to with his teaching is that need for humility in having, if you want to achieve Level 5 Leadership, there is that paradox, and humility’s a piece of that.  And I think of the example you gave with Jim Collins and with Truett.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

BILL YATES:  And they both – there was a mutual respect there.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.

BILL YATES:  One was not going to undermine or do something behind the back.  They had such respect for each other.  And I know that’s a key to the culture and to the success of Chick-fil-A is building that trust and having that humility and finding really talented, but humble people.  So I think you guys are really set apart in that regard.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That ideal team player that Pat Lencioni talks about, you know:  hungry, humble, smart.

BILL YATES:  Right.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Hungry you can tell.  Smart you can tell.  Humble you can fake.

ANDY CROWE:  Yes.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Humble you can fake.  And what Lencioni talks about is that’s the easiest one to get wrong.  And quite honestly that’s, I think, something that we are struggling with and that all larger companies will struggle with because there was a time when you joined, and you joined because it was a calling.  You know, it was like, okay, you saw Truett, and you were like, “Man, he’s a cool old dude.  I want to hitch my wagon to that.”  And now we’re big; you know.  And so you want to make sure you’re bringing in people who are humble, who have the humility and who recognize, at the end of the day, we’re a restaurant company.  And you’re going to smell like peanut oil, and you’ve got to be okay with that.

So there’s a common bond, a common core, a common culture that you have to identify, and that you have to all point toward as you’re working together, and knowing that you’re all striving for the success of the operator and the community.  But, you know, if you don’t have that common language, and you don’t have that common culture and that common bond, it’s going to be really, really difficult for you to be able to actually work together as business partners.

ANDY CROWE:  And I think humility is something that you can fake.  I agree with that a hundred percent.  But I think it’s only for so long that you can fake it.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  It’s like, I can hold a beach ball under the water, too; you know.  But eventually that beach ball’s going to come up, and it’s going to come roaring up.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  And, you know, you find that humility isn’t so easily faked when failure comes into play.

BILL YATES:  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  That’s when you see.

BILL YATES:  Add a little bit of stress, and then you see what somebody’s made of.

ANDY CROWE:  There’s an organization that I’m involved with right now that’s going through a significant failure.  And immediately it’s devolved into an eight-way finger point.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  Everybody’s scrambling to find someone to blame, and no one’s accepting the blame.  And no one’s even taking ownership of any of the mistakes.  So it’s fascinating.  Now you start to see, okay, what looked like humility, it’s something else now.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Oh, that is a great point, Andy, because you see the same thing where – when you can find somebody who will say, “Yeah, I blew it; I was wrong,” especially somebody who is in a position of leadership to do that, that is fantastic role modeling.  And leaders don’t – most of them don’t understand that.  They feel like they’ve got to preserve a look.

ANDY CROWE:  A veneer.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  A veneer, right, of being perfect.  And we all know you’re not, so don’t pretend that you are.

ANDY CROWE:  I blew it.  Here’s how I blew it, and here’s what I’ve learned from it.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yes.  Yes.

ANDY CROWE:  Here’s why that won’t happen again.  If somebody can do that, you’ve got a gold mine on your hands.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  That’s right.  And when you find that in particular in a new hire or a younger person, and you realize, I mean, in Chick-fil-A there’s a lot of grace given when you don’t do things right because we all know that doesn’t happen.  But  it’s rare to find somebody that’ll raise their hand and go, “Yeah, I blew that one, and let me tell you what I learned.”  I’d hire that person all day, every day, you know.  That’s what you need.

NICK WALKER:  Well, Steve Nedvidek, we are just scratching the surface in this discussion of the necessity of innovation in the history of Chick-fil-A.  We have a lot more to ask you.  So we’re hoping we can carry our conversation over into our next podcast two weeks from now.  Would that be all right?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  I’d be happy to.

NICK WALKER:  Great, great.  Before we say goodbye, though, this time, how could our listeners get in contact with you?

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Yeah.  Easiest way is either LinkedIn or just email me.  Shoot me an email:  steve.nedvidek, N-E-D-V-I-D-E-K.

BILL YATES:  That’s how I would have spelled it, too.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Or as my mother used to say, “N as in Nancy, E as in Edward, D as in David, V as in Victor, I, D as in David, E as in Edward, K.”

ANDY CROWE:  Not K as in kilo, just K.

STEVE NEDVIDEK:  Just K, just K – at cfacorp.com.

NICK WALKER:  Well, thanks again, Steve.  Andy and Bill, as always, thanks for guiding us.  We’ll see you all back here in two weeks.

Here at Manage This, we’ve got your back when it comes to PDUs, Professional Development Units, toward your recertifications.  Did you know that you get free PDUs just for listening to this podcast?  To claim them, go to Velociteach.com and select Manage This Podcast from the top of the page.  Click the button that says Claim PDUs, and just click through the steps.

That’s it for us here on Manage This.  We hope you’ll tune back in on July 18th for our next podcast, when we talk again with Steve Nedvidek about some of the processes involved in innovation.  In the meantime, you can visit us at Velociteach.com/managethis to subscribe to this podcast, to see a transcript of the show, or to contact us.  And tweet us at @manage_this if you have any questions about our podcasts or about project management certifications.  We always like hearing from you.

That’s all for this episode.  Thanks for joining us.  Until next time, keep calm and Manage This.

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