Making the Winning Sweetie Pie’s Recipe

I’m a huge fan of the “Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s” reality television show on OWN.  The show centers around a family owned soul food business.  I’ve seen every single episode.  Wishing I could dive into my television for some of that mouthwatering cuisine.  Smothered pork chops, mac and cheese, juicy collard greens, flaky corn bread, and sweet potatoe pie. 

Robbie Montgomery is the brash and sassy owner of the St. Louis based restaurants.  Montgomery a former “Ikette” for the Ike and Tina Turner Revue…has a rich story of triumph over tragedy.  I went from television to organizational development.  The television reporter in me is doing a happy dance over this inspirational story.  But, the organizational development practitioner is disheartened over the inner workings of the business. 

Its not my style to invade a chef’s  kitchen.  But, I noticed a number of issues surrounding the transition and grand opening of the third restaurant.  The owner’s dream restaurant dubbed the Upper Crust…designed to be the finest and largest location of all the restaurants.   There are a plethora of toxic ingredients (within operations) that harmful to the recipe (business).        

Current Formula

On the front lines…there is too much ambiguity over who will work at the new location.   The restaurant lacks norms.  Employees bicker over responsibilities.  Blame is sprinkled in the atmosphere as there is trouble getting food out in a timely manner.          

Behind the scenes…competition (due in part to hidden agendas) brews between Montgomery and her son who co-runs the restaurants.  The two openly argue in front of employees.  There are no effective business policies and procedures in place.  Little to no time is spent defining goals, planning work and coordinating activities for employees.  They neglected to develop and communicate a transition plan to employees.                        

In the kitchen.  Co0ks have trouble using equipment and perfecting the Sweetie Pie’s recipe.  Food is tossed.  Time is lost.  Montgomery micromanages staff using coercive power.  She lacks consistency reprimanding employees.  Montgomery has side conversations with line cooks about the head chef’s performance.  The owner later promotes the line cook as head chef…who soon becomes the hatchet man.  He is forced to fire the boss he once reported to.  By the way…the head chef now out the door was a new hire and top student from the local culinary school.  Talk about leaving a sour taste in your mouth.        

Here is a suggestion on how to create a winning business recipe.

Prep Time: 3-12 months

Total Time: 30-48 months

Level: Difficult

 Yield: Organizational Servings

Directions for New Recipe (some events should occur simultaneously)

  • Develop an action plan (include transition plan).
  • Develop a contingency plan.
  • Conduct weekly progress meetings with leadership team.
  • Hold an education summit to include all employees.  Discuss changes in the organization. 
  • Develop strategies to help employees cope with change. 
  • Create a responsibility chart for employees.
  • Administer employee engagement surveys.  Involve employees in decision making.  Provide opportunities for individual growth.
  • New hire training to learn about restaurant processes, master the menu, and properly use equipment.
  • Leadership training.
  • Conduct a series of simulations in the banquet hall to successfully execute duties and improve work patterns.
  • Arrange for organizational alignment and teambuilding sessions.

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Categories: Organizational Transformation

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