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Episode Info

Episode Info:

My guest today is Zeynep Ton. Zeynep is an adjunct associate professor in Operations Management at MIT Sloan School of Management and co-founder of the nonprofit Good Jobs Institute (GJI). Before MIT Sloan, Zeynep spent seven years on the faculty at Harvard Business School.


Zeynep’s research explores how companies can design and manage their operations in a way that satisfies customers, employees, and investors simultaneously. In 2014, Zeynep published her findings in a book, The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits.


I wanted to speak to Zeynep because while cultivating healthy and adaptive cultures requires focus on issues such as purpose, mission and vision, behaviors. and skills, it also calls for something that we don’t talk about enough in the context of culture - making the right operational choices.


Zeynep shares her expertise, experience, and examples in this interview and gives us a lot of useful ideas on how to build the supporting architecture for better cultures.



Episode Highlights


In this interview, Zeynep and I discuss:

  • Why bad jobs put companies in a vicious cycle of poor service, low profits, and low employee engagement
  • How better operational choices can lead to reversing that cycle and creating superior value for employees, customers, and investors
  • The 4 operational choices that drive performance and continuous improvement: Focus & Simplify, Standardize & Empower, Cross-train, and Operate with Slack
  • What the right balance between standardization and empowerment might look like
  • Why empowerment often doesn’t work and what companies who got it right do differently
  • How one company saved 1.2 million just by giving their frontline employees an opportunity to contribute and make improvements to processes and solving issues

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