School leaders are often looking for effective ways to manage change and improve customer service to internal staff and to the patrons the district serves. We decided to reach out to a small business owner who is renowned for his businesses’ performance in customer service and bottom up innovation. In this episode of the K12 HR Solutions Podcast, I interview Ari Weinzweig, Co-Owner and Founding Partner of Zingerman’s Deli. Ari and the Zingerman’s way has been featured in Inc. Magazine, Forbes, the New York Times, and Oprah.
Some quick background information on Ari. After studying anarchy and Russian history at the University of Michigan, Ari Weinzweig went to work washing dishes in a local restaurant and soon discovered that he loved the food business. Along with his partner Paul Saginaw, Ari started Zingerman’s Delicatessen in 1982 with a $20,000 bank loan, a staff of two, a small selection of great-tasting specialty foods and a relatively short sandwich menu. Zingerman’s now has multiple business formats and is operated by unique style of leadership principles that has allowed it to become an Ann Arbor institution—that has over 500 staff members and annual sales over $55,000,000 a year. In this episode school leaders will learn more about:
- History of last names (this has nothing to do with change or leadership for school districts, but it was an interesting factoid that Ari threw in at the opening of our podcast when I struggled to pronounce his last name)
- 12 Natural Laws of Leadership
- How to encourage and channel innovation.
- How Zingerman’s manages change and empowers their employees to create change themselves through the Bottom Line Change Principles
Ari Also discusses the concept of Open Book Management. This is a method of leading where staff members are taught how to read and understand the financials of the business to help lead in a more collaborative and transparent manner. Ari discusses a great book on that inspired his views on Open Book Management titled, The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack and Bo Burlingham.
Additional resources available to brows on the Zingerman’s website are:
- ZingTrain Zingerman’s Training Institute
- ZXI (Zingerman’s Experience Indicator). A metric Zingerman’s uses to measure and encourage customer service among employees.
If you want to learn more about Ari’s 12 Natural Laws of Business, here is a keynote address he delivered in 2014 where he discusses each of the 12 Laws.
We hope you were able to take some good information away from this episode. Please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes. It is the fastest way to help us increase our number of listeners. Also, in the comment section below, let us know what your district does to help facilitate bottom up change and how your district maintains an environment focused on customer service. If you would like, share your ideas on the Open Book Management Philosophy and how you think it could work in your district.