Pizza is not only one of the most favoured foods in North America, it can also make a great case study in innovation and business improvement. There are many lessons that can be learned in the business world from the humble pie.
At Delta Hotels, problems inspired creativity (and more pizza)
When Delta Hotels expanded its outdoor seating area for the summer, its kitchen equipment and process was pushed to the limit. Their signature pizza was a popular order, but chefs could only make three pizzas at a time in the wood-burning oven.
In trying to remedy the problem, the chefs debated making smaller pizzas, but they didn’t think their customers would accept this solution. When they opted for oblong pizzas, using the same amount of dough and ingredients, the chefs were able to fit five pizzas in the oven at the same time. The resulting 66% improvement was simple, but also an extremely effective innovation.
Here’s the rub: the Delta Hotels restaurant had created an improvement of an existing process, not an innovation.
Innovation is a buzzword – it is sexy, new, and exciting. Making stuff better – improvement – can seem boring in comparison. Yet, it is through improvement that a business can unlock value, generate momentum, and free up cash.
Improvement is when we take a current process and make it faster, better, with less resources. We reduce costs which allows us to reduce price or increase our return.
Innovation is when we add value to the customer’s purchase or experience. We should be able to increase prices because the customer is willing to pay more for the added value.
The oblong pizza can only be considered an innovation if customers are willing to pay more for it. The Delta’s kitchen staff made an improvement without sacrificing value. They did so by using the same amount of ingredients and designing the pizza so that more could be baked in the same oven space.
Customers expected that the pizza would show up with the same amount of ingredients as it did before the patio was opened. A smaller pizza, or a less dressed pizza would have dissatisfied customers – especially those who had enjoyed the larger pizza in previous visits. Customers also expected the pizza to show up in a timely fashion. The process was improved while maintaining the customer value status-quo.
Read more on pizza innovation in The Globe and Mail article by Ted Graham.
The pizza technology revolution is about finding improvements to customer experiences. Read more about how technology innovation is getting baked into business.