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A Pig In Lipstick? Let’s Focus On The Right Things

Originally posted: October 9, 2009 on TrishMcFarlane.com

 Have you heard the quote “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”  That was said by Barack Obama during his Presidential campaign.  I thought of that today when I read a story on MSNBC.

Did you know that Burger King is embarking on a ‘futuristic’ remodel of all its stores?  There was an article today on MSNBC that detailed the extent of the remodel and the cost.  The King plans to make owners spend an estimated $300,000 to $600,000 for each of the 12,000 outlets worldwide. “The sleek interior includes rotating red flame chandeliers, brilliant TV-screen menus and industrial-inspired corrugated metal and brick walls.”  The Chairman and CEO, John Chidsey, says, “It feels so much more like an upscale restaurant.”


I don’t know about you, but to me, Burger King is and always will be a fast-food restaurant.  No amount of cosmetic changes will convince me otherwise.  Besides, are they suddenly trying to go after a different market?  I’m not sure, but if the answer is no, then this expenditure does not make good sense to me. I think they need to analyze what they are trying to accomplish.  Is it to gain more of the existing fast-food market?  Then why not have owners invest in higher quality food, better customer service, or more convenient drive-through experience?

I see this happen every day in the business world, and in HR in particular.  How many times do companies have real issues that they ignore in favor of buying a flashy, shiny, “new” program or technology that really doesn’t get at improving the overall employee experience within the company?  All the time.

So, what are some steps you can take to keep the company, or the HR department, on track? 

  • Determine what the core business or service is, then put all your energy in doing that best
  • Look for opportunities to outsource  or redesign various processes within the organization or department
  • Determine your staffing methodology then stick to it
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Use an external vendor to help you survey and analyze the areas needing improvement and attention

The key is not forgetting what you are in business to do, what your company values are, and the core competencies needed to achieve the goals of the company.  If you take your eye off the ball for even a moment, you may lose sight of what it is that makes the company great.  Don’t worry about putting lipstick on a pig.  It’s still a pig.  And, don’t worry about only changing the “cosmetic” view of your company or department because it doesn’t change what is underneath.  If there are issues underneath, focus on changing them.  That’s the time when you can bring in technology or consultants to really help you address the issues.  The rest will take care of itself.

And by the way, regardless of how much money Burger King spends on the remodel, I’d still rather grab some White Castle hamburgers in a fast-food joint that has looked the same way for generations. Wouldn’t you?

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