Olive Garden, Immersion and You

The secret is out- Olive Garden is one of America's greatest passions.  After all, "when you're here, you're family."  A pretty clever spin line from a parent organization that also oversees Long Horn Steakhouse and Red Lobster. The result is a nearly $4B empire that keeps getting better and better.  And you thought that it was just the all-you-can-eat pasta bowls.  Actually, there's quite a science to making OG such a hit.

One of the techniques used by OG management is the use of overseas immersion trips for selected employees.  Olive Garden's Culinary Institute of Tuscany includes 14 lucky employees who have demonstrated exemplary workplace performance.  They spend a week in an Italian village and learn how olives are harvested and pressed, how fine food is made and how to create a dish of their own.

Imagine if your organization did this as well.  Is there a partnership that you can strike up?  Can you afford to send a group of leaders to another location for a day or two for learning and insight?  Can you afford not to?

We are exploring the possibility of partnering with a school from PA.  If we could set up an annual exchange program with 3-4 teachers from their school and 3-4 from ours, the benefits could be tremendous.  The key linkage, as with Olive Garden, is the passion for the product.  As OG employees love Italian food, so our employees are passionate about Catholic education.

It's worth a shot.  What can you do this week to promote immersion or people-exchange?

*Photo by William Hartz