A Change Station for Organizational Integrity

June 16th was my first Father's Day and to celebrate the day my wife, daughter (still smile when I say that), and I made our way out for a hearty brunch. After moving on from our first choice because of a line that extended out pass the restaurant walls, we ended up at a Smitty's Family Restaurant.

The food was as expected with portions big enough that the last few bites had to be coaxed in and they made true on their advertised promise that if you ate there for Father's Day that they would give you a coupon for a free entree to use at some point in the future. Everything was going fine until my daughter needed to be changed like 8 week old's need to be and I entered the men's washroom with daughter and diaper bag in hand.

It's happened to me before where I would go into a men's washroom to change her diaper and there would be no change station. At first this sort of thing didn't bother me and we would make due with the supplies we had in the bag. My wife is a professional organizer and really knocked it out of the park with getting a good diaper bag where we can carry everything needed for this sort of situation. But as the meal went on it started bothering me more and when my wife went to use the washroom and reported back that there was a change station in the women's washroom my level of frustration reached a new level.

My irritation with the lack of change stations in men's washrooms and what that says about societies dated opinion on the expectations placed on women to be the primary/sole caregiver, the options or lack there of for single dads or same sex couples, and the lack of support for men who are actively parenting their child is on a personal level. This situation however, also highlights a professional or operational issue with the alignment of practice or organizational integrity of some facilities.

I don't mean for this article to be a slam against Smitty's, they are not alone in this and we had a good experience during our meal. In fact, I fully intend on returning to the restaurant for another meal at some point - coupon for free entree or not. The reason why I use this example is that this highlights an issue that many companies face, the way their business operates prevents them from operating their business. Think about that for second. The way their business operates prevents them from operating their business. What I mean by that, is that each business has a way they want to operate, a way they envision themselves doing business. However often times their systems, whether it be material or process, prevents them from achieving this vision.

On the Smitty's website they state that they are the largest family restaurant chain in Canada and are "particularly popular among families with small children, seniors, and travellers." It goes on to say that "Smitty's has always met our customers' needs - from the first patrons in the 60's, to their children and grandchildren throughout the 70's, 80's, and 90's and into this new millennium." That's a great position to be in - meeting the needs of their customers over so many decades. In order to do that, they most definitely adapted their service as the needs of each generation changed, as the market changed.

It is likely no stretch of the imagination to think that there wasn't a big need for change stations in the men's washrooms of the 60's and 70's, however I would like to think that as the 90's progressed that this need began to increase and is an absolute must for today's customer, especially for the customer that is going to a family restaurant that notes families with small children as one of its primary target markets.

A company like Smitty's that is doing so many things well and has been able to be successful for so many years will undoubtedly have no issue maintaining a customer base, however for many companies their lack of a theoretical change station in both washrooms may be an early warning sign that they are not positioned to do what they say/want to do. This lack of organizational integrity will eventually hurt the bottom line whether it be financially or through their safety record - both of which will prevent a business from meeting their customers needs resulting in the business going the way of a dirty diaper - replaced with a new one that fits just right and keeps its customer happy.