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Resuscitating restaurants: What drives performance culture today


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The restaurant industry was hit hard by the pandemic. It has to manage many changes, and the most challenging one is retaining talent. According to the National Restaurant Association’s State of the Restaurant Industry (2022) report, more than one million jobs in the hospitality and restaurant industries remain unfilled, and 78 percent of restaurant operators lack the staff to meet customer demand. Data also shows that three out of every four employees intend to quit their jobs within the next year.

In order to mitigate talent management concerns, Chipotle, an American fast-casual restaurant chain with a presence in the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, and France, developed new strategies and launched programs that are focused on meeting employee expectations and boosting employee experience.

Retention strategies

Chipotle’s benefits program, Cultivate Me, provides its employees with a best-in-class benefits and perks package. It includes bonuses (annual and quarterly), education assistance and debt-free degrees, free meals (one free meal per day), paid time off, assistance program (free access to counselling), 401(k) retirement savings, healthcare services and advocacy,  and benefits in Chipotle partners (discounts in big brands and gyms).

Observing that the turnover rate raised continually in the industry, Chipotle launched learning and upskilling programs. Employees are given multiple options, ranging from high school diploma programs and college classes to courses teaching high-end computer networking skills. The company also introduced a mentoring program for future executives.

Another initiative to boost employee retention was asking employees about the tasks they want automated. The restaurant chain started its automation efforts by developing together with Miso Robotics an autonomous kitchen assistant that makes tortilla chips. The robot called Chippy is already being tested and is soon to be integrated into restaurants, leaving employees to focus on more important tasks. The company also started implementing a new digital scheduling program and upgrading its learning portal. As stated by Brian Niccol, CEO of Chipotle for QSR magazine, the brand’s automatization’s radar scans for those “jobs people don’t love doing.”

The restaurant chain also launched a new Learning Management System, the Spice Hub, where restaurant employees can enhance their skills through gamification, social learning, personalized learning paths, and instructor-led training. 

Chipotle ended 2021 in need of 20,000 employees, who should fill its 200 restaurants. Like most of its competitors, Chipotle raised wages as the first step in employee attraction. But that is an initiative that only makes the company keep up with the market. Since the entire restaurant industry is struggling, Chipotle needed to do something more for its employees. That is how Chipotle promotes its differentiator: equitable access to education and mobility. 

Chipotle partnered with Guild Education, a private company that helps companies manage their education assistance benefits, to carry out a national Back-to-School campaign. It aims to attract and maintain interest in school for those employees that can either balance work and online schooling or decide to follow a path of on-campus education. Leveraging its educational benefits in the national campaign, Chipotle’s recruiting team has received 7,500 total applications.

Evaluating employee performance

Broadly, an employee’s performance is periodically evaluated by a representative of the company. The evaluation should result in new goals for improvement and rewards for desirable results.

Chipotle replaced its annual performance review with more regular review sessions. Its performance review now comprises at least four meetings per year. During these sessions, managers ask employees four questions. The so-called 4×4 conversation contains the following questions:

  1. What are your most significant accomplishments since we last met?
  2. What are the most important things you will focus on before meeting next?
  3. What obstacles are you encountering right now?
  4. What can I do better or differently as your manager to support you?

This type of review and the questions themselves consider the employee as the owner of the evaluation. Employees give feedback to the company and challenge themselves with new objectives.

The employees’ performance can be acknowledged through benefits, recognition, compensation, and rewards. Since the beginning, Chipotle has rewarded its employees with prizes. If prior, the employees were rewarded with free menu entrees, now, Chipotle employees can win multiple Chipotle goods and a variety of discounts from Chipotle Partners.

As a result of all Chipotle restaurant chain’s efforts to retain employees in 2021, they managed to:

  • Internally promote 90% of restaurant management roles 
  • Promote almost 19,000 team members
  • Offer free and confidential Employee Assistance Program (EAP) services to all Chipotle Employees in need of mental and emotional support
  • Achieve a Human Rights Campaign Corporate Equality Index score of 100
  • Establish an inclusive, award-winning culture

At Chipotle, the company’s values have been agreed upon altogether with employees. The leadership team defined an initial set of values that were later discussed with employees. The fact that the leadership team involved all employees in such a decision empowers them and increases their loyalty.

Culture is from the beginning communicated and present in all interactions inside a team. One of the first ingredients of culture reinforcement is investing in people. Increasing communication within all organizational levels and enhancing collaboration can strengthen teams, leading to an increased retention level and a high-performance culture.

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Green transformation strategies: building sustainable tourism for the future


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“The pandemic and its impact on tourism, jobs, and revenues offer an unprecedented reminder of the need to rebalance our relationship with people, planet, and prosperity. The green transformation of the sector is needed, not just for the planet, but also for tourism itself, boosting competitiveness and increasing resilience.” – UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

While the world is seeking to adapt to the “new normal” set by an ongoing pandemic, the future of the tourism industry remains highly uncertain. According to the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer released in January 2022, global tourism registered an increase of 4% in 2021, with 15 million more international tourist arrivals compared to 2020. Still, these levels remain 72% below the pre-pandemic year 2019. Meanwhile, the latest UNWTO Panel of Experts survey reveals that most experts (64%) agree that international tourism will not reach the 2019 levels until 2024 or later. 

Beyond the economic and social disruption, the pandemic crisis has disclosed existing structural weaknesses in the tourism sector, along with breaches in governmental and industry preparedness or response capabilities. Fragmented sectors and differences in the nature of tourism; seasonality; consumption of natural resources; impacts on climate change; and relative importance of tourism in the economy are only some of the shortcomings, as shown by the OECD Tourism Paper in 2021. 

Moreover, recent studies indicate that the demand for tourism is undergoing significant behavioral changes towards more sustainable travel patterns that were amplified by the pandemic. For instance, a 2021 Eurobarometer survey showed that 82% of European citizens are inclined to include more sustainable practices in their travel habits, such as consuming locally sourced products, reducing waste and water consumption, traveling off-season or to less-visited destinations, and choosing transport alternatives based on their ecological impact. These results are supported by another survey conducted by across 30 countries worldwide that gathered insights from 29,000 travelers. Seventy-three percent of the participants in the survey would be more likely to choose an accommodation if it has implemented sustainability practices. 

Such studies prove that there is an increasing need for developing more sustainable and resilient models of tourism, supported by policymakers and service providers. In other words, a change of paradigm is needed, and green transformation policies and strategies seem to be the approach that will bring resilience and balance between “the needs of people, planet, and prosperity” in the tourism ecosystem.

The role of green transformation in sustainable industry recovery

Green transformation is not a new concept for the world economy, and it emerged as a trend in the tourism industry even before the pandemic. In a broad sense, the concept refers to “combining economic growth with caring about the environment to guarantee a high quality of life for present and future generations, at the level which is attainable due to civilizational development, as well as to an effective and rational use of the available resources” (Cheba et al., 2022, p.1). 

In particular, green transformation involves an integrated approach that relies on combining legal regulations, innovative technologies, strategies, and clear initiatives to create sustainable and environmentally friendly markets. As the pandemic hastened the call for a green transformation in tourism, worldwide organizations and policymakers are planning strategies, key actions, and targets to achieve long-term competitiveness and sector recovery. 

There is a general consensus that the industry must continue to build digital skills, implement digital solutions, create sustainable infrastructure, and address sustainable travel patterns. In early 2022, the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs released the Transition Pathway for Tourism, a report that introduces a set of strategy recommendations for the tourism ecosystem, based on the objectives of the European Green Deal. Within this report, the European Commission refers to the “tourism ecosystem” as businesses that work in sectors such as food and beverage services, on-line information and services providers (tourist offices, digital platforms, travel technology providers), travel agents and tour operators, accommodation suppliers, destination management, attractions and passenger transport (pg. 2).

Some of the key strategies and their related targets are as follows:

  • Passenger transport companies (aviation, water, and land transport) should reduce Greenhouse Gasses (GHG) to become climate neutral by 2050. 
  • European cities and regions should develop sustainable mobility for climate-neutral cities, by implementing mobility plans and by doubling the high-speed rail traffic by 2030.
  • Buildings have to become more energy and resource-efficient, and energy support must move towards sustainable renewables.
  • Hospitality and all tourism services should implement circular models and diminish their environmental footprint. This includes reducing by half the amount of non-recycled waste by 2030 and lower food waste, single-use plastics, air pollutants, and water pollution while increasing water efficiency.
  • Each destination or tourism service provider should build their communication strategy on transparency towards sustainability and environmental footprint, thus guiding and empowering consumers’ choices. 

Furthermore, the World Tourism Organization considers that “transforming tourism operations for climate action continues to be of utmost importance for the sector to remain in line with the international goals.” To support that, three main goals and actionable ways for their achievement were introduced in the Recommendations for the transition to a green travel and tourism economy: monitor and report CO2 emissions from tourism operations; accelerate the decarbonization of tourism operations; and engage the tourism sector in carbon removal. 

Green transformation strategies in practice

Around the world, different practices of strategy planning and ongoing actions stand as evidence for the shift to a green travel and tourism economy as a roadmap for sustainable and resilient growth.

In the recovery from COVID-19, Kyoto (Japan), “a city where history and culture give rise to hope,” reconfigured its urban development and tourism strategy in 2021. The recovery strategy aims to develop the city as a higher-quality destination for both residents and tourists while supporting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) recommended by the United Nations. 

As stated in the Kyoto Tourism Promotion Plan 2025, five Goals for Urban Development and Tourism are to be achieved by 2030:

  1. Harmony between the life of residents and tourism, allowing the local populace to feel enriched
  2. All actors are involved in refining the “light of Kyoto” and improving tourism quality.
  3. Tourism industry leaders become more active, and entrepreneurship of new businesses in the fields of tourism and culture flourish, contributing to improve the vitality of the city and cultural inheritance
  4. Ensuring flexible, strong, safe, secure and environmentally sustainable tourism that can cope with various crises, such as infectious diseases and disasters
  5. Establishing the city’s credentials as an attractive MICE city, welcoming people from all over the world, recognizing diversity, and contributing to world peace

Measuring the progress towards achieving their vision is ensured by key performance indicators set for each of the five goals, which are meant to be evaluated on a regular basis. Several examples of KPIs included in the strategy plan are as follows: 

  • % Full-time employment in the tourism sector
  • % Satisfaction level of tourism workers
  • % Tourism businesses whose products and unit prices have increased
  • % Tourism businesses contributing to the local community
  • % Tourism businesses that take into consideration the environment
  • # International conferences held

One distinctive feature of the Kyoto strategy is the Code of Conduct for Sustainable Tourism in Kyoto (Kyoto Tourism Morals), which aims to provide “guidelines for the tourism industry and its workers, tourists, and residents to work together in united efforts to maintain harmony in Kyoto, and to preserve Kyoto for future generations.”

“Rebuilding tourism is also an opportunity for transformation with a focus on leveraging its impact on destinations visited and building more resilient communities and businesses through innovation, digitalization, sustainability, and partnerships.”  – 2020 Tourism Policy Brief, United Nations

This article originally appeared in the 23rd PERFORMANCE Magazine – Printed Edition. Download your free copy from TKI Marketplace or get one in print via Amazon.

How Smart and Sustainable Cities Contribute to Healthier Citizens


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Compared to previous decades, the world has more innovative and safer cities that take better care of their citizens. A smart city represents an area that uses information and communication technology (ICT) to enhance administrative performance, disseminate information to the public, and boost the standard of services and the welfare of residents. A 2022 study reports that between 2000 and 2016, there was a global decline in the number of deaths from lower respiratory infections among children under the age of five, which fell by 54%, and roughly 13% overall.

Making a city smarter has been identified as the most effective method for enhancing residents’ quality of life and tackling urban challenges. According to a 2022 top from Ranking Royals, the smartest cities in the world have developed in the Nordic countries (namely Norway, Finland, and Denmark), Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, New Zealand, Spain, Austria, USA, and South Korea. 

Boosting Sustainability and Citizens’ Wellness

While getting smarter, urban regions have implemented sustainable systems and tools that contribute to the Green Deal agreement. The EU Green Deal’s primary goal is to achieve climate neutrality as the first continent by 2050. That will lead to a cleaner environment, cheaper energy, smarter transportation, new jobs, and a better lifestyle. The strategies of smart cities aim to improve life quality for inhabitants by using innovative technologies and saving resources. 

For example, in Graz, a smart city in Austria, energy efficiency is considered essential for future developments. In 2010, the “Smart City Graz” project, whose purpose was to transform the territory into a sustainable and energy-autonomous urban district, was launched. 

Denmark demonstrates its strength and sustainability level by covering the needs for energy production without using foreign energy resources. It secures its place as the greenest country in the world by continuously practicing a sustainable economy. For instance, a 2020 case study presents one of the wealthiest areas in the world, a Danish island called Bornholm. Bornholm’s wealth comes from developing new energy market mechanisms to control energy networks with a high proportion of renewable energy resources. 

To support sustainable initiatives and contribute to citizens’ welfare, Vitoria-Gasteiz city (Spain), the European Green Capital of 2012, launched a secure bicycle parking network called VGBiziz. It is a low-cost initiative comprising 9 parking sites for around 400 bikes (including electric and cargo bikes). In 2009, Valencia, Spain’s largest city, joined the Covenant of Mayors, and in 2010, it announced its first Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP). The agreement should reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 in accordance with the goals set forth by the Mayors’ Covenant on Climate and Energy Program. By using the VLCi Platform, a global platform for smart city management, Valencia moves forward with its Smart City Strategy.

In the 2022 Environmental Performance Index (EPI) rank, Denmark received the highest EPI score (77.90), with 14.90 points increase compared to last decade. The Environmental Performance Index is a tool for measuring the environmental performance of a state’s policies. The United Kingdom earned the second position with a very close score, 77.70. Finland occupied the third place with 76.50 points, followed by Malta (75.20), Sweden (72.70), and Luxembourg (72.30).

How to Monitor and Improve Citizens’ Wellness

Sustainability concerns not only the welfare of the planet, but also the well-being of its inhabitants. The environment can positively or negatively impact human health. People need good resources to evolve and stay healthy: fresh air, good food, and drinking water. But how can people know if they have all of these? To evaluate life quality, municipalities usually use publicly available and updated key performance indicators (KPIs), such as: 

  • # Outdoor air pollution 
  • # Air quality complaints 
  • # Risk Management Index
  • # Environmental Sustainability Index (ESI)
  • % Households with a reliable supply of water
  • % Drinking water compliance rate
  • % Households with access to safe water
  • % Satisfaction with food quality

Since respiratory infections are influenced by air quality, specific KPIs for measuring the air level of pollution should be included in weather updates. Individuals that suffer from chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are susceptible to the negative effects of air pollution. Asthma and COPD are aggravated and triggered by air pollution, raising respiratory morbidity and mortality. Also, cholera, diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio are just a few of the illnesses that can spread due to contaminated water and poor sanitation. People are exposed to health risks when water and sanitation services are absent, unsatisfactory, or improperly managed.

Leaders can use key performance indicators to improve quality of life and make decisions based on the results. Some KPIs, which they can consider are: 

By monitoring the energy-related KPIs, community leaders can see if they can satisfy the needs of citizens, using only renewable energy resources. Additionally, KPIs such as # Initiatives promoting greater environmental responsibility and % Current environmentally friendly projects help raise environmental protection awareness.

To advance your knowledge and skills among professionals in identifying most effective KPIs for your organization and its use in measuring performance, be a Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner. The certification in KPI Measurement courses of The KPI Institute are designed to help practitioners understand the KPI measurement challenges and ways to address them. Invite your colleagues and enroll now! For further information, visit

Servitization: Selling Usability and Performance


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Sell the mobility, not the vehicle! Sell the light, not the lamp! Sell the cooling, not the AC!

In a continuously changing market with intense competitiveness and constant shifts in the customer’s behavior, traditional manufacturers have to keep adapting and innovating to maintain their positions. 

An innovative business strategy that shifts the traditional way of doing business is servitization, a process through which the producers go from a product based model to a Product-Service System (PSS). Companies are no longer producing and selling products alone. They are selling services, integrated solutions, and an overall greater experience for the end consumer.

According to Miying Yang and Steve Evans’ study on “product-service system business model archetypes and sustainability,” a generally agreed-upon way to classify the PSS is to include it in one of the following models:

  1. Product-Oriented – when the provider sells the product that ends in the buyer’s ownership. Other services such as consultancy or maintenance can be sold.
  2. Use-Oriented – when a business provides customers with the utility of a product while keeping its ownership. Examples are renting or leasing.  
  3. Result-Oriented – when the company sells the results of a product or the value being delivered to the customer. The customer only buying the consumed light instead of lighting products is a relevant example of this typology.

To remain relevant in an always-evolving environment, companies should seize every opportunity to enhance their performance and obtain competitive advantages. Servitization is a win-win model benefiting all the involved parties that’s  why an increasing number of businesses are approaching it. 

Competing through advanced services is, first of all, an opportunity for growth and profitability as the revenue streams are more diverse. By offering complimentary ongoing services, the income gates certain stability due to recurring and incremental revenue streams.

The relations with the clients are strengthened as their satisfaction is increasing and their loyalty is drive-up. Greater alignment with the customer needs facilitates a long-term relationship and a better relationship with the customers means higher barriers to competition.

Using a servitization model can become an important source of insights for further innovation because providers are still connected to their service which eases the detection of improvements and can spark ideas for new services. Additionally, services are more labor-dependent and less visible which makes them more challenging to replicate and become a sustainable source of competitive advantage.

With all the above benefits also come challenges that companies face in their process to adopt servitization. The biggest problem results from the aversion to change. Old habits die hard while shifting towards servitization requires fundamental changes in the way companies are doing business, affecting every aspect from the strategic approach to everyday operations.

It is a time-consuming transition that needs to be done gradually to avoid putting pressure on the enterprise’s resources. Also, it requires adjustments in the existing capabilities, new technologies need to be deployed to support the services offered, and the employees need to develop related competencies.  Customers’ perception is another challenge that companies face, as clients may be reluctant to adopt an unfamiliar servitized solution. 

Selling Performance: Pay-per-lux and Power by the Hour

Philips Lighting, currently activating as Signify launched the ‘Pay-per-lux’ model, a ‘lighting-as-a-service’ offer for its customers. Signify handles the entire lighting service – design, installation, maintenance, and upgrades while the customers pay a monthly service fee for light. The program considers circular principles and uses advanced technologies like AI and the Internet of Things. In this model, Signify keeps the ownership of the lighting systems and offers a five-year performance contract, which is based on a series of key performance indicators such as light level, uptime, and energy savings.

The solution was first deployed for the National Union of Students from the United Kingdom. Signify is responsible for the lighting system for 15 years, while NUS pays a quarterly fee. As a result, the energy costs have been minimized while the technologies used are continuously updated, and annual checks are done to assess the system’s health and prevent maintenance. 

Rolls-Royce manufactures engines for the aviation industry and implements a servitization model named Power by the hour through which customers have access to a service package by a dollar-per-flying-hour payment mechanism. CareServices solution offers a variety of services to customers such as engine monitoring to predict potential maintenance problems and ensure the aircraft is ready to fly on time, efficiency services to balance the low fuel consumption with optimized flight operations, asset and safety management solutions, in addition to world-class customer support.

The most recent service agreement has been signed with South Korean airline T’way Air. It will benefit from a service concept based on predictability and reliability that will secure the cost of operating, maintaining, and enhancing aircraft availability.

To sum up, there are many other companies from different industries that are moving their focus towards servitization. Even though it is not shielded from risk, the model can create significant benefits in relation to resource efficiency, growth, customer relationship, resilience, and impact on competitiveness. For a traditional manufacturer, a gradual transition from product commercialization to a servitize offering can become a decisive factor in its long-term sustainability.

To ensure a smoother transition from the traditional way of doing business to servitization, join the Certified Strategy and Business Planning Professional course offered by The KPI Institute. Develop the right plan and strategy for your business in achieving servitization. For further details, visit

Practitioner Interview: Ihab Ibrahim’s Take on Aligning Sustainability Targets To Strategy Plan


In an interview with The KPI Institute (TKI) Publishing Team, Ihab Ibrahim Mohamed Alsakkti, a Strategy and Performance Manager at Alkifah Contracting Company, shares his insights and expertise in organizational performance management for the next issue of Performance Magazine – Print Edition.

On the one hand, investing in sustainability is no longer a nice-to-have strategy. But it is absolutely a need-to-have strategy to ensure compliance with governmental and regulatory requirements.

Here is an excerpt of the interview, where Ihab highlights the effect of sustainability in strategy planning and performance management.


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