Playing Chicken


What is the minimum that KFC, the chicken fast-food restaurant, should be able to offer its customers? The answer, of course, is chicken. Amazingly, however, KFC were unable to offer chicken in most of its restaurants across the UK last week. Many of which were forced to shut.

A decision to change KFC’s delivery contract from Bidvest, a specialist food distribution company, to DHL and, at the same time, switch the underlying information systems, led to the majority of restaurants running out of chicken almost immediately.

The crisis at KFC has been blamed on ‘severe operational issues’. The root of the problem, however, is not driven by ‘operational issues’ but by ‘leadership issues’. A mission-critical handover of this nature requires the close and full sign-off and oversight of the company’s most senior leaders. Consequently, any business failure of this nature is a failure of leadership and it is disingenuous to suggest otherwise.

Bullying in the workplace is not, for instance, a ‘cultural issue’, endemic poor customer service is not a ‘staffing issue’ and a consistent failure to deliver your most important projects on time and cost is not a ‘workload issue’. These are all leadership issues.

Any organization is a reflection of what its leaders focus on. You can’t focus on everything, but, equally, you can’t just ‘play chicken’ with your most important, mission-critical activities and simply hope that things will turn out well. As the leaders of KFC have learned to their cost, the chances are that they won’t!

Where are you currently focusing your attention and how well does this match the real priorities of your business and its ongoing health and success?


© Stuart Cross 2018. All rights reserved.

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