I was taking a low-key tour of a potential clients restaurant, a very busy fast casual concept.
We were walking the back kitchen area which was small but was as clean and space efficient as a military submarine.
Impressive as hell, quite frankly.
The knifes were all synchronized on the magnetic strip, the dry goods on the shelves at attention, grocery style. The storage bins had custom-labels, not an inch of space wasted. I think even the labels, had labels.
It was like the food prep Batcave, all the Bat tools nested in their predesignated spots, poised for action. If Batman was dicing tomatoes, and cutting lettuce.
It was a thing of beauty (especially for an organization geek like myself) with very little room for improvement, and I told the owner so.
He thanked me, almost uninterested in my comment.
But as soon as we arrived at the Dish Station, his whole demeanor changed. He lit up and began speaking excitedly. He opened it up the machine and explained how he had not been satisfied with how many over-sized dishes he could fit on the two dish racks that the machine could wash in one cycle.
So, he thought about it and came up with a solution: he designed and built a stainless steel crisscrossed grid that lay on the inside bottom. So big bus tubs, pans and items that didn’t fit on a rack well, could just go straight into the machine resting on the grid, and you could fit more items per load. It was much more efficient and it saved money and time.
He took something that was assumed to be in its best form, and made it just a little bit better.
It was genius.
It was like that scene in “A Beautiful Mind”, when John Nash discovers that Adam Smith’s economic theory of 150 years was wrong. Without the pretty girls and the bar.
It was a problem that no one realized needed a solution.
Which got me to thinking:
There is no real final version of any product or process that has moving parts. So, basically everything can be better.
There is a massive opportunity for whoever makes the next best version (Hotels-Airbnb, Taxis-Uber, Employee Schedules-Hot Schedules, etc.)
Some of the best opportunities are problems waiting to be solved right under our noses.
The owner turned out to be just as smart on many of the aspects of his business, and I got the gig.