W&D: Undercover Boss – 7-Eleven

I’m glad to see that each episode of Undercover Boss has a slightly different twist or message – some I am sure that are unintended.

This week, Joe DePinto from 7-Eleven announces to his executive team that he will be going under cover on the front lines.  In each episode, I’ve been paying close attention to the reactions (at least the ones we get to see) of the CEO’s team when they hear that the boss is actually going to see the operation.  So far I’ve seen expressions that range from nervous optimism to restrained panic.

I think this may contribute to why a program (such as 7-Eleven’s commitment to donating food to a charity rather than throwing it away) lives mostly in the boardroom, and not in the individual stores.  While I wouldn’t fully speculate without getting to know the people and organization a little better, I think there might be some communication issues among Joe’s executive team.  Again, we see what the producers want us to see, so it’s tough to draw concrete conclusions.

Communication would solve a number of the problems highlighted in this episode.  The lights that were out and the wasting of product are two that pop to mind right away.  By no small coincidence, ultimately it was communication (down from Joe) that created a better situation.  My glass half-full brain wonders if these wouldn’t have even been big enough issues for a TV show if somewhere along the way there was more effective communication, and the issues were resolved early on.

I will say that my favorite realization for Joe was the fact that the store that sells the most coffee DOES NOT do so because of the type of coffee, the food selection, the store layout or anything else you can replicate from location to location.  It was because of an employee named Dolores.  She is the heart and soul of that store and treats everyone coming in for a cup of java not like a ‘customer’, or even the nicer version, ‘guest’.  She treats them as people… as friends… as members of her family. She knows their name, what type of coffee they like and when they come in.  It’s no secret that as human beings we want to belong, want to connect with others and be a part of ‘something’.  Dolores makes that happen in that store, and by the way sells a TON of coffee in the process.

What did you think?

Next week, we all go to White Castle!

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