10 Jan

What Your Nonprofit Can Learn from Chick-fil-A

Right before I gave a talk today at the Jewish Federation of Southern New Jersey’s Shark Tank Kick Off about innovation, I read in Fortune Magazine an article about How Chick-fil-A is Appealing to Millennial Moms.

Over 100 Chick-fil-A locations are  offering a “mom’s valet” as they are calling it, allowing a parent or caregiver to order in the drive-thru while their kids are securely buckled in their car seats. When they park and arrive inside, someone from Chick-fil-A has reserved them a table with the necessary high chairs and delivers their food.  The idea came when the restaurant noticed how difficult it is for parents to keep an eye on their kids while ordering and getting situated. (Too bad this didn’t exist when my kids were little.)

Chick-fil-A wants to sell chicken. One of their target markets is “moms” with young children. They noticed an unrelated problem to the sale of their chicken and sought to solve it. Now when given a choice of McDonald’s, Burger King or Chick-fil-A, young families have a good reason to pick Chick-fil-A.

It was a good example for me to use when talking about the need for nonprofits to associate when designing innovative programs and services. Associating is linking seemingly unrelated questions or problems. Associating is one of the five discovery skills that separate true innovators, according to Jeffrey H. Dyer, Hal B. Gregersen, and Clayton M. Chirstensen in The Innovator’s DNA.

What challenges do community members face that we can link to our work and seek to provide solutions to solve? Today I gave the example of religious school, which brings up after school transportation, homework help, snacks, coordination of sibling schedules, dinner and more. What if your week day religious school offered busing? Homework help? A healthy snack? Care for younger grade school siblings? Had prepared dinner available for purchase when you picked up or fed the kids dinner? Would these associated solutions change how parents view week day religious school?

Let’s learn from Chik-fil-A and anticipate our customers problems and offer creative solutions. In doing so, we can be more relevant and valuable to those we serve.


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