Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The oatmeal chronicles -- Part 2

#IHI The oatmeal chronicles continue, with the folks at the Marriott displaying impressive responsiveness to the process problems noted yesterday. As you can imagine, revamping things overnight for a crowd of 6,000 people is not easy.

We arrived at the food area this morning to find friendly people serving the oatmeal. You can't expect a hotel to replace all the bowls and serving utensils at the drop of a hat, so this was a successful fix for the time being.

A member of the management nabbed me and graciously thanked me for pointing out the problem yesterday. "That's the best way for us to improve," she noted. "Thank you." A very good attitude!

So, for my readers, what would you do next on this issue? Is this the optimum solution? Is there a way to fix the underlying problem that is not so labor intensive? What else would you consider, and how would you do it?

Something tells me that this is going to be a case study at the next hospitality association annual meeting!

8 comments:

Sarah said...

A way to fix the underlying problem? Yes! Change the recipe so the oatmeal is not so gloopy. Easy peasy.

76 Degrees in San Diego said...

Wide gauged heated gravity designed oatmeal dispenser

76 Degrees in San Diego said...

It's "push the bar, see it plop" technology

Anonymous said...

Last I looked at most stores that sell kitchen utensils, ladles come in various sizes, including smaller ones than that in the picture. Seems to me the hotel could just purchase smaller ladles and keep their staff in the kitchen?

Cetus said...

Two words: giant syringe.

Carole said...

Very smart Customer service & PR on their part.

Joe Wright said...

two fixes that require no extra labor, and no new equipment:
1. don't serve oatmeal
2. do serve oatmeal, but use tapered soup bowls instead of those vertical-side breakfast bowls.

the problem as you laid it out previously was the bowls being too small for the ladle, right?--so you can change the ladle size or the bowl size. easier to change the bowl size, because the hotel should have tapered-side bowls for soup or salad already without having to purchase, store, and maintain new bowls, new ladles or a new oatmeal dispensing system. in fact if they can be washed quickly between breakfast and lunch services it means that the inventory is being used more efficiently as the bowls will be used 2x-3x/day rather than once, as with these breakfast bowls.

given the low cost of oatmeal relative to other breakfast options, even if this might lead to guests taking a slightly larger quantity of oatmeal on average, it would still likely be worth it.

i would add for your consideration another benefit of this scheme: in my opinion, a broader more shallow bowl is also a more pleasant way of eating oatmeal for those who like milk on their oatmeal, as the milk is better distributed relative to the oatmeal. i concede that the spillage rate would likely slightly increase but with broad plates under the broad bowls it should not be much worse than with these bowls which are also being served on plates.

Paul Levy said...

I like this, Joe. Indeed, they have such bowls that they use for other meals!