Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 2/20/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about L’Oréal cosmetics, Nestle Purina PetCare, AltaMed, Arby’s, Keefe Group, and Apple.

From Stephen Chick: The Power of Simplicity

“L’Oréal cosmetics has learned that simplifying operations ‘makes life easier’. Its plant in Rambouillet, France, once produced an assortment of shampoos, hair colorants and skin creams for the Garnier brand. The site was home to several different technologies. ‘Our operation was very complex,’ says plant manager, Jean Delomier. ‘We decided to focus on one technology which was shampoo and to produce more with less equipment, with less complexity, with less technology which makes us more efficient in the end.'”

From Mark Graham Brown: Baby Steps: How Slow Steady Improvements Drive Exceptional Results

“Success rarely happens with one major breakthrough. Sometimes it seems like that to outsiders, but most great successes are a result of many steps, practice and making a lot of mistakes. The Beatles, for instance, played in front of live audiences for hundreds of hours six nights a week before their ‘overnight’ success. Successful organizations are not much different from successful people. Both must continue to try things, learn from failures, and adapt and change as needs or markets change.”

From Ashley Lutz: 3 reasons Arby’s business is on fire

“The chain, which is known for its slow-cooked meats and curly fries, had a 5.7% sales increase in 2014, compared with growth of 0.8% across the industry. The company has reported same-store sales growth for 17 quarters.”

From Tim Barker: Prison services are profitable niche for Bridgeton company

“The 40-year-old Keefe Group is one of the larger players in a cottage industry that provides inmates with everything from food and condiments to music players and phone service. It handles deposits to prisoner accounts and runs an operation that allows family and friends an easy way to send approved — as in containing no contraband or potential weapons — care packages.”

From Daisuke Wakabayashi: What Exactly Is an Apple Watch For?

“That left Apple executives struggling to define the purpose of the smartwatch and wrestling with why a consumer would need or want such a device. Their answer, for now, is a little bit of everything: displaying a fashion accessory; glancing at information nuggets more easily than reaching for a phone; buying with Apple Pay; communicating in new ways through remote taps, swapped heartbeats or drawings; and tracking daily activity.”

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