TYGES Insights

What If I Could Make it so that the Garden Weeds Itself

I read a book recently called Think Like A Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner; the bestselling authors of Freakonomics. The book outlines how to set aside biases and begin to think more like an economist. It is an excellent read and I highly encourage you to have a look but rather than give you a book report I wanted to highlight a particularly intriguing idea. The authors provided an example of an idea they called “teaching our garden to weed itself” using the band Van Halen; a popular rock band from the ’80s with a larger-than-life frontman named David Lee Roth.

Essentially it worked like this. Van Halen had a very large roadshow with complex lighting, pyrotechnics, and sound systems.  The set up of this equipment often would fall to the host venue and many times there were problems with the setup when the band arrived on the day of the show. The result was that the show would need to be delayed or the quality of the performance was less than what it could have been if the setup had been done correctly. In order to correct the issue, the band would need to have their personnel go onsite at the venue to oversee the setup and make sure things were done correctly. This was a costly and time-consuming approach for the band.

Apparently, the band’s lead man, David Lee Roth, hit upon an idea that didn’t necessarily fix the issue but certainly gave the band some indication that there were likely to be problems with the setup. In the entertainment industry, it is common to have riders in the contract that outline the venue’s responsibilities in minute detail. Given the complexity of the setup required the rider was very detailed as to the construction of the stage, lighting, pyrotechnics, etc. In addition to the logistics of the set up the band also required certain food, drinks, etc. to be provided in the dressing room and some of these requirements could be quirky, to say the least. For instance, Van Halen required the venue to provide a bowl that contained a large amount of M&M’s.

The idea that David Lee Roth came up with was to require, in the rider, that the venue remove all the brown M&M’s from the bowl. The M&M bowl served two purposes; the first being that the band really liked their M&M’s but the second was that the presence of M&M’s or lack thereof was an indication of how closely the venue adhered to the very detailed instructions in the contract rider. Ie – if the band arrived and there were brown M&M’s in the bowl then it was a pretty good indication that the entire setup needed to be gone over with a fine-tooth comb for errors. 

The authors went on to explain how this idea can be used in other instances but the basic tenet is that processes can be designed such that the nonconformances become readily apparent; like the presence of brown M&M’s in the bowl.  Next month I’ll write about how these ideas can be applied to the hiring process. Until then spend some time thinking about how you can create a garden that weeds itself.

Steve Sanders

Written by: Steve Sanders, VP/GM of Industrial

Steve Sanders leads the Industrial Recruitment team at TYGES and has been with the organization since 2003. Prior to joining TYGES, Steve worked in engineering and supply chain roles with Honeywell International Inc. and Deere & Co. He has first-hand experience working in the automotive, chemical, and off-highway equipment manufacturing industries.

Steve’s philosophy is simple. He demands honesty, integrity, and open communications from both himself, his clients, and the candidates that he works with. He strives to be a source of competitive advantage to his clients and seeks to build strategic partnerships. He is committed to exceeding customers’ expectations by providing quick, professional service. He believes in sharing both the good and the not so good. He believes in doing the right thing, even when it is not the easiest path. Steve is energized by finding that perfect fit individual and introducing them to the client.

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Picture of Written by: Leah Bryant

Written by: Leah Bryant

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