Managing rules and expectations



European rules and French cheese

Kevan Hall, CEO of Global Integration was recently having lunch with a French client who was struggling with an increasing number of HQ controls and rules.

As we enjoyed some excellent cheese I was reminded of when I lived in Strasbourg. Our works restaurant manager had been complaining about some new European legislation that mandated that cheese be stored at less than 4 degrees, until immediately before serving. He quite rightly felt that this led to tasteless cheese which needs to mature at room temperature for real flavour.

The first day of the new rules there were many complaints, this was an unwarranted intrusion on French sovereignty! The next day the cheese was back to room temperature and much improved. I asked the catering manager how this was achieved, he said, “hey were fully compliant with the legislation, the cheese was now ‘served’ at 8 a.m. so it could be collected at midday”.

For me, I took away three learnings:

First – if you really want adherence, the devil is in the detail, we need to be really clear about what we want and use clear, concise language and follow up systems to drive change.

Second – if the reason for the change is not well accepted or communicated then there is nearly always a way around it.

Third – cheese really is better matured.

As Charles de Gaulle said, “Voulez-vous gouverner un pays qui a deux cent quarante-six variétés de fromage?” (How can you govern a country which has 246 cheeses?)

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