I have to take back what I said about the restaurant. I can’t recommend any one of the three bidders.
The process being used was so flawed that it virtually guarantees the same failures as SCA earned in the past.
To use an SNL metaphor, trusting the GM to get this right is like trusting Stevie Wonder to do my grandson’s bris.
Doing the wrong job really well so the right job can’t be done right
There’s no point in even giving you a summary of Tom Nissen’s and Forrest Quinn’s reports – even though they tried really, really hard, and they did a lot of fine work. It was just the wrong job, and doing it that way hijacked their job as Board members.
And worse, by them doing the wrong job, it makes it impossible for the Board as a whole to do its job right.
Remind me, what is the Board’s job?
The Board, working as a unit, sets policy, gives direction and defines financial limits and rules to control the GM. The GM then must design and manage the process for getting done what the Board, as a single entity, told her to do.
The Board must hold the GM accountable to get the job done right, not let her pick a few Board members to do her work or let her keep secret what she’s doing.
That’s why she gets the big, big, big bucks. To my way of thinking, she has a long way to go to prove that she’s worth it to the owners she is here to serve.
The Board must hold the GM accountable for building community consensus before she acts – even though, as she often complains,
It’s really, really hard. After all, at the end of the day, some owners are just whiners.
The Board should have required the GM to do the job right by:
using a volunteer owner-oversight committee to guide a fair and open process and monitor her use of appropriate experts and/or neutral brokers.
(I know. I’ve been warned that I better be careful talking bad about La Principessa. Last time I criticized her performance on the restaurant, I got a cease & desist letter from her attorney, I mean from SCA’s, attorney that probably cost owner’s a couple grand.)
It makes me so sad I want a drink, and there’s no bar.
Really, it breaks my heart. I still really want a restaurant. Well, actually, I mostly want a great big, long bar with a great, long happy hour, but there are just way, way too many things wrong with the process to even consider proceeding to choose a vendor from this highly selective RFP.
There was too much done without the right people being involved and too much info given to the wrong people. Two Board members were doing the wrong job so they couldn’t do the right one. The GM wasn’t doing her job right.
The workshop really hyper-accentuated what has got to change around here. (I’m sorry. I really hope you don’t have to pay for Clarkson to write me another letter.)
Learn not to swallow poison pills
On the bright side, this is a very valuable lesson. The fatal flaws in this restaurant selection process are the same leadership failures and systemic deficiencies that will doom the viability of self-management, if we let it. But having identified the poison pills, we just need to pay attention. We don’t have to swallow them any more. And, if we do, as SCA’s attorney advises, it’ll be our own fault.
What do poison pills look like?
- Confusion and blurred lines between the Board and GM roles
- Board as a single entity not providing adequate direction and limits to GM
- Board’s failure to hold GM accountable for developing processes to achieve cost-effective results
- Using 2-member Board work groups or attorneys to propose policy or to do the GM’s job
- Lack of transparency where it counts
- Incentives that reward the wrong behavior
- Relying on the wrong experts, e.g., attorneys everywhere and experts with the requisite skills nowhere
- Board allowing the GM to block functional owner oversight through refusing to have a committee structure appropriate to self-management
- Board President’s abuse of authority and attorney to make sure Board members are compliant or are disappeared
- Cultural pattern of “In-groups” and “Out-groups”