The Carrot Story


The Carrot Story

The Carrot Story is a thought-provoking parable on how organizations achieve positive change. Light-hearted in approach yet profound in message, it reinforces how steadfast discipline in the pursuit of continuous improvement impacts future success. The Carrot Story resonates from CEO’s to front-line workers, and in today’s challenging business climate, it has never been more relevant. We sincerely believe the healthiest, most productive organizations incorporate carrots into their daily diet. Bon appétit!


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Success in life is like The Carrot Diet

Success in business is like the Carrot Diet. Success in most anything is like the Carrot Diet. If you master “the secret” of the diet, you’ll be successful at almost anything you do. The secret is a valuable lesson, one worth examining, especially in today’s faster, better, lower cost world. The Carrot Diet story illustrates why initiatives often fail in organizations.


The Carrot Diet is a straightforward technique

for safely losing weight. The concept is very simple: eat one pound of raw carrots a half-hour before every meal or snack – not cooked, not juiced, not carrot sticks, just whole raw carrots. After eating one pound of carrots, you may eat anything and everything else you like. You don’t need to count fat grams or worry about calories. If you want hot fudge sundaes, go for it.

That’s it. Pretty easy, right? It requires no special menus or equipment, and it works every time. Yet, experience demonstrates that not one person in 100 is successful with the Carrot Diet, even for a day
or two. People fail in their resolve because they do not know the secret of the Carrot Diet. Without the secret, it cannot work.


How does your organization eat its carrots?

The answer is critical to an organization’s potential for implementation success. As they operate in highly competitive markets, organizations encounter challenges that require Carrot Diet discipline. Despite the importance of success, few organizations achieve expected results. Why? Because, as with individuals, organizations do not know the secret of the carrot diet approach.

Let’s review one tale of a carrot application gone wrong.
See if you recognize any of the symptoms. Acme
Enterprises was trying to apply the carrot
approach to achieve significant improvement.


Initially, everyone rallied support around the initiative

and affirmed they were ready and eager to eat carrots whenever called upon. Everyone realized the importance of the carrot initiative and pledged their support. The mission was clear. Carrot coffee cups, note paper cubes, and laminated cards were distributed. Things seemed to be going well until the first carrots appeared on their “already full plates.” Problems arose.


The engineers began work on improvements

to the carrot approach. They determined that carrots worked because of beta-carotene. So instead of actually eating carrots which, they allowed, “was more appropriate for manufacturing people”, they decided they could take a beta-carotene pill each day and get the benefits of hundreds of carrots. No carrots were eaten.


Human Resources discovered some potential problems

with the carrot approach. The labor contract never actually said workers had to chew on the job. Also, meat lovers in the workforce might be offended by the focus on a vegetable. So, Human Resources recommended that carrots be put on hold until these issues could be researched. Wanting to set a good example, they ate no carrots and were careful not to speak of the orange vegetable.


To ensure Carrot Diet success, Information Services

suggested the development of a carrot consumption tracking program. That way, all levels of management would be able to plan and monitor the results of the carrot initiative. Staff members said they could design and install such a system in 15 months for about $350,000. They recommended that carrots be postponed until the system was in beta testing.


Preliminary carrot calculations indicated a large profit

as a result of the initiative. But, upon further analysis, the Finance discovered carrots were not in the budget and the accounting system did not have a line item to track carrot expenditures. Worse yet, what labor code would be assigned for carrot eating time – was it training or straight labor? They suggested a delay in eating carrots until these questions could be addressed.


The president, who fully endorsed the initiative,

spent countless hours in support of the Total Company Carrot Plan (TCCP). To demonstrate commitment, he visited every location of Acme and gave TCCP kick-off speeches. He approved carrot coffee cups, note cubes, and golf shirts. He even renamed the executive conference room “The Carrot War Room” and had its walls covered with statistics, mission statements and plans.

Unfortunately, the president was not able to stay completely focused on TCCP. Recently reengineered organizations and processes demanded his attention. New market opportunities were too important to pass up, and day-to-day activities consumed much of his time. TCCP was delegated to another leader, who also was very busy.


As you can guess, the initiative at Acme failed.

Everyone supported the concept, but few carrots were eaten. A year later, the only evidence of carrots at Acme was the occasional laminated wallet card in an empty desk.

Did Acme fail because the Carrot Diet failed? No. Acme failed because its leadership did not understand the secret of the Carrot Diet. Many people think the secret is that you have to eat the carrots. That is true; you do have to eat them. But that’s not the secret.


The secret is this:

There is no alternative to eating the carrots – no exceptions. It doesn’t matter how smart you are, how intuitive your insights, or how computer literate you are. No matter what you do – from quantum research to hand-assembly of toys – you have to take the carrots, snap them off, chew them up, and swallow them down. The basic actions must be identified, performed and measured all day long, every day, to effectively implement anything new.


Again, success in life is like the Carrot Diet.

It is the critical element of all implementations, whether it’s Lean manufacturing, Six Sigma quality, technology, customer service or cycle-time improvement. Everyone (including company leaders) must embrace new and fundamentally different ways of doing things every day, until the actions become automatic and ultimately, self-sustaining. Most initiatives fail because leadership teams don’t understand how to manage disciplined implementation on a rigorous timetable. How can you have your results if you don’t eat your carrots?


Great ideas abound within organizations,

yet over seventy percent of strategic initiatives fail. Why? Not because they’re bad ideas, but because typically more thought goes into their creative development than their calculated execution. What’s missing is a structured implementation process that engages and focuses the organization to accomplish not only the task at hand but also the ongoing actions required to sustain improvement. Do you have the discipline necessary to ensure implementation success?

The End

Kaufman Global specializes in implementation.

Our approach is simple and effective. We:

  • Improve performance by eliminating waste and variation from processes.
  • Engage the organization to address cultural, emotional and political elements of change.
  • Teach and enable internal change agents.
  • Deliver measurable results.

The difference between lasting success and “just another program of the month” is the ability to implement those ideas.