Should Restaurants Eliminate Tips?

How do you feel about tipping? Are you happy to reward a well-done job or do you have more of a Mr. Pink attitude toward gratuities?

A pair of recent Slate articles got me thinking about tipping. The first is pretty straightforward and makes the case that tipping at restaurants should just be banned (Tipping Is an Abomination, Jul 9). The argument is that the practice is bad for customers since it leads to uneven treatment and bad for workers since it allows employers to pay absurdly low wages. But what happens when a restaurant simply eliminates tipping? That is the topic of the second article written by a former restauranteur who did just that (What Happens When You Abolish Tipping, Aug 14). In lieu of tipping, the restaurant added an 18% service charge to the check. Thus it pricing was more like an auto service station that breaks out its labor charges from the cost of parts.

The 5 Levers to Pull in Finance to Add More Value to Your Business

What are the most important business decisions? Which decisions are material or risky? Is Finance really involved in decision-making today or just providing information as input to the decision?

Agreeing the ‘business value opportunities’ is the first lever for a good reason – it’s the most important lever to get right.

Yet this is the lever that most CFOs skip over, or pay lip-service to.

Why You’re Wasting $$ On Finance Skills Training

Most Finance Directors say that having the right people with the right skills is their number one priority for delivering business value from Finance.

Yet, in my experience not many FDs identify the specific capabilities needed by their finance business partners, as opposed to general skills like ‘presenting with impact’ or ‘influencing skills’.

As a result a lot of learning and development money gets spent on general ‘soft skills’ training - presentation skills, negotiation skills etc. Does this really drive more business value?

The Ethics of Big Data: Vendors Should Take A Stand

We can now gather, correlate, and analyze information in ways that were unthinkable in the past. The book “The Human Face of Big Data” does a particularly good job of rounding up some of the most interesting stories of how these technologies will touch our lives.

However, with great power comes great responsibility. Analytics is a very powerful weapon, and weapons can be abused.

The past clearly shows that without proper controls, there can be irresistible temptations for companies and governments to combine data in ways that threaten personal liberties. Misuse of every previous data gathering technology has eventually come to light, sometimes only decades after the facts, leading to new laws re-establishing privacy limits.

Modelling Business Processes

Most, if not all organisations, constantly strive to improve performance. There are only three basic ways of doing this: reducing costs, improving income, or finding new ways to satisfy their customers. Out of these, cost reduction has been a dominant theme and is typically achieved by telling budget holders not to spend. But logically this can only go so far – at some point the impact on saving costs will be minimal. Also just cutting budgets could mean that some vital activities may become underfunded, which in turn will have an adverse affect on improving performance. But there might be a better way ….

When Brains Are Not Enough

Even high intelligence and experience do not instinctively produce the BEST solutions.

Smarts and experience. Who could ask for anything more when assembling a project team?

How then do we explain the 70% to 80% failure rate on acquisitions? Don’t organizations assemble their A-team for acquisitions? Don’t they engage investment bankers– firms that hire the cream of MBAs from the top schools?

No App For That

We are asking the wrong questions, not calculating the wrong answers.

During an initiative to improve capital project processes I was approached by a small cadre of project managers. They assured me that they understood the goal of improving problem solving and decision-making. Then, out jumped their true reason for our little meeting. “Dave, what we really need is our own spreadsheet template to enter the costs and benefits of our projects. We’ll be able to prepare proposals faster and won’t need finance analysts on our teams.”

This group misunderstood the initiative’s goals entirely. The overhaul wasn’t to make capital approvals easier or faster (although that was a collateral benefit). The overhaul focused on producing better projects. That doesn’t come from spreadsheet templates or black box analysis models. Better projects come from asking the right questions of the right people at the right time.

Memo to CFOs: They Know Who You Are

How confident are you that the work you do makes your company more valuable? That should be a key question for a CFO. Since I came to this publishing enterprise in 2007, I’ve often heard opinions voiced (even by some finance chiefs) that CFO work does not, many cases, really add value.

Now think about this. Regardless of your own level of self-confidence, how confident is the rest of the company that you’re adding value?

You might ask, “Why should I care?” Well, you should, I think. If nothing else, other viewpoints may contribute to greater self-awareness. But as it turns out, in many respects finance’s view of itself may not be all that different from everyone else’s.