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A Collaborative Approach In Business :And Its Obstacles

Posted on July 3, 2015 at 9:10 PM

Interesting on a number of fronts: McDonald's, the fast food chain, keeps popping up in the headlines, doing good things. Clearly a great deal of real intiative is being exercised in terms both of shaping the business and engaging customers - and doubtless it is also being matched by media/PR spend.

But, when multiple and unrelated sources keep bringing McDonald's to my attention, I listen.

So this intiiative is worth writing about. It seems that Severn Trent Water, the water company,  and McDonald’s have joined forces to reduce sewer blockages, by helping to educate staff about what they shouldn’t be pouring down sinks and drains at the food chain’s restaurants.

The partnership is part of a drive to minimise blockages in sewers and drains across the Midlands.

Severn Trent says it has been helping McDonald’s to set up an awareness raising programme for a pilot group of managers across the Midlands on how to dispose of fats and oils from cooking, and understand the environmental benefits of looking after their pipes and local sewers.

Karen Woods, McDonald’s restaurant manager and Chris Allsop, Severn Trent Water community lead


James Jesic, head of operations at Severn Trent Water, said: “We’re really pleased that McDonald’s has agreed to work with us on reducing sewer blockages. McDonald’s strives to reduce the impact its restaurants have on the environment, so this was something they were really keen to do with us. The response from their staff has been great; they’re so keen to learn about how they can play a key part in reducing sewer blockages and improving their local environment.


Sarah McLean, Managing Director of 12 McDonald's restaurants in the Midlands area said: “This collaborative approach on behalf of Severn Trent Water with my management teams has been a positive experience in ensuring we work in a pro-active way to operating the restaurants. It is an important aspect of our overall due diligence in providing a service to our customers and employing large numbers of staff that my team acts responsibly to protect the environment and sets the example. “

So far. so good. Commendable collaboration of the sort we need to see far more of in business.

But a longish while ago - before my Twitter account @dinamedland began to resemble Topsy and grow in meteoric fashion - I was in Sevenoaks on a Saturday and hugely frustrated (along wth everyone else trying to park) by the fact that the main road was being dug up YET AGAIN.

So I tweeted something to the effect of - why can't the utility companies collaborate and record on a grid  when they need to dig up the road so that they can save time and effort and cause minimal public disturbance by overlapping their work ? As a tweet, it clearly resonated with other people's experience.

(In Sevenoaks, by the way, it has been obvious for about a decade that the road I live on needs major gas pipeline repairs - not patching up of leaks everytime someone complains they smell gas. I know this, because I have called in the smell of gas many times on the same corner and British Gas engineers have told me that 'repairs' rather than replacement of pipes, has been for cost-cutting reasons.....no one wants to authorise a major cost. I do believe this is finally about to happen - major pipe changes - but the accrued cost of all those trips out could well exceed the capital outlay now). But I digress.

Going back to Severn Trent and McDonald's. I asked Severn Trent why it was there was no such collaboration between utility companies to find out when they were each doing work, and preventing digging up the same bit of road again and again.

My official question in an email was: "do the utility companies have any kind of system in place to collaborate on when they are digging up roads for repairs ?"

And the answer? In a nutshell, the utility companies have to apply to the local council to work on a highway. So....as Severn Trent's spokesman put it: "yes – it would be good to work better with other utilities, but as permission comes from the local councils, we need to rely on them to take into account what other work is ongoing in a particular area."

This is an absurdity in terms of fixing crumbling infrastructure and getting things done.

Kudos to Severn Trent and McDonald's for moving ahead as far as they have done - and an example for others to follow.








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