This story gives an example of the difference that consultants can make to an organization.
Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant . After a while, we noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange, but I ignored it. However, when the busboy brought out water and utensils, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around the room and saw that all the male staff had spoons in their pockets.
When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked him, "Why the spoon?"
"Well," he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired Andersen Consulting as efficiency experts, to revamp all our processes. After several months of statistical analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped utensil. This represented a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our waiters were prepared to deal with that contingency, we could reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift and give a faster response time to customers."
As luck would have it, I accidentally knocked my spoon off the table, and he was able to replace it immediately with his spare spoon.
"I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now." he said.
I was rather impressed.
Later I noticed that there was a very thin string hanging out of the waiter's fly. Looking around, I noticed that all the male waiters had the same string hanging from their flies.
My curiosity got the better of me, and next time he came to our table I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?"
"Oh, certainly!" he answered, lowering his voice. "Not everyone is as observant as you. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we men can save time in the restroom."
"See," he continued, "by tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out over the urinal without touching it and that way eliminate the need to wash the hands, shortening the time spent in the restroom by 76.39 percent."
"But, after you get it out, how do you put it back?", I enquired.
"Well," he whispered, lowering his voice even further, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."