- Teaching Notes
- Supplementary Resources
The case is set in the room service department in a privately owned four-star hotel in Cape Town, South Africa. The hotel is operating to five-star standard, but chose to be rated four stars to attract corporate clientele. Uncollected room service trays have been a long and nagging problem at the hotel, where initiative after initiative seems to fizzle. Lenny Jacobs, the outgoing room service manager, is keen to leave his department on a good note and brings in some pro bono help in the form of a young and enthusiastic consultant, Elaine Scholtz. Scholtz is itching to try out some Lean Thinking tools in an alternative environment. In particular, she hopes to employ the “A3” style of addressing problems. A3 works on the classical plan-do-check-act cycle, but within the confines of only an A3 page, is highly visual and the process emphasises participation and coaching. It is a Toyota and Lean Thinking tool. Scholtz immerses herself as best as she can in the operation of room service and tray clearing, operating within the constraints of the operation and the time she has available to do this work, as it is pro bono. She prepares elaborate presentations (which she has to toss eventually), works with the team to understand the problem, maps it for herself, allows them to speak about what they believe the problems are, never offering solutions, and builds rapport, but despite her best efforts she still encounters skepticism, distrust and resistance. She is left feeling frustrated, disillusioned and unsure of what to do next.