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What’s the “ketch” to business success?


Best Business Practices

Figure in the “Heinz Factor”

In business, you want things to stick. Your brand, for one.

Other times, you need things to flow. Like a steady stream of clients or customers.

It seems that getting business in the door and ketchup out of a bottle have a lot in common. You got to coax it, tap it—and even, windmill it. Once started, things flow.

    1. Think Borrowed Wisdom

Whether used as a business analogy or startup enabler, ketchup has a lot to teach us.

For instance, when it comes to getting it to flow, a professor and doctoral student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) broke the code—and started a company, LiquiGlide™.

According to its website: “Dave Smith was a PhD student in Professor Kripa Varanasi’s lab, trying to solve the problem of methane hydrate build-ups in oil and gas pipelines by using liquid-impregnated, slippery surfaces.”

Their initial success broadened their thinking: If the solution works for this, then why not that.

Inspired, Dave made his now famous video of ketchup free-flowing from a bottle, which went viral. Consumer package companies came knocking—and LiquiGlide was founded in 2012.

Dave and Kripa applied borrowed wisdom, expanding their solution to many industries—maximizing the versatility behind the viscosity.


  • Turn Oops into Opportunities


As good as it tastes, spilled ketchup makes a real mess. I equate ketchup stains with business mistakes. They’re bound to occur, but if admitted and corrected with care, can be learning lessons and opportunities.

Nowhere is this belief better illustrated than by the man whose name is synonymous with ketchup itself. And it’s found in the book, It Was Never about the Ketchup! The Life and Leadership Secrets of H.J. Heinz.

In the chapter about “The Dignity of Labor,” author Steve Lentz writes that Heinz, known for his precision and thoroughness, was well aware that people made mistakes.

“In fact, Mr. Heinz might almost be said to believe in mistakes, so warm was his sympathy for the person who acknowledged one frankly. His way of getting at it usually was: “Now, how would it be if we tried it this way?’”

I couldn’t agree more. After 20 years in business, I find openness and candor corrects a lot. After all, ketchup gets spilled. Clean it up. Mistakes happen. Fix them.

It’s all in how you go about making things right that makes the business better.


  • Catch Lightning in a Bottle


You can make a product. Build a brand. But sometimes, somewhere along the way, an idea becomes the ideal.

So reports Serious Eats: “For most of us, Heinz is the default ketchup of choice, the one we compare all other ketchups to.” Against seven brands, it ranked Heinz Organic and regular Heinz #1 and #2, respectively.

An iconic brand, Heinz wins taste tests—time and again. But it’s much more than that.

As Sierra Tishgart writes in Grub Street: “Heinz very well might be actual lightning in a bottle, and perhaps the rare confluence of factors that make it not just unmistakably good, but also culturally dominant, just cannot be replicated.”

Lighting in a bottle. What business doesn’t aspire to be that? To achieve it comes down to perfecting the right blend and balance for a product or a service—in any and all aspects of your operations.

For a contact center service provider, it starts with selecting the best agents, educating them well in a client’s operations and then executing to precise measures.

That’s the aspiration for great on-demand solutions—or amplitude, perfected taste, if we’re talking ketchup.


In a Word… Amplitude

Success in business often begins with the letter “a”—as in ambition, advance and achieve.

To them, let’s add amplitude. Anyone in the food industry knows it well.

It’s “the word sensory experts use to describe flavors that are well blended and balanced, that ‘bloom’ in the mouth,” reports Malcolm Gladwell in his New Yorker article, The Ketchup Conundrum.

Place at the Table

Written a dozen years ago, Gladwell’s piece still has intellectual shelf life and a place at the table.

Turns out, there’s a delicious correlation between ketchup and business, which I learned long ago. For any company, the perfect blend and balance come together in its business operations and performance.

For contact center outsourcing, it goes from selecting the right talent to educating agents in a client’s brand to achieving specific metrics.

Such well-blended balance, based on proven processes, produces the desired bloom—or, in this case, business results.

Clock It.

The optimal speed of ketchup exiting a bottle is “.028 miles per hour,” according to Heinz®. Speed is tied to product quality. Any faster and the batch is rejected.



Sweet Spot

So what’s your “Heinz® Factor”—ketchup-to-business ratio? Are you using the right thinking, techniques to get things flowing?

Just remember this tip: “To release ketchup faster from the glass bottle, apply a firm tap to the sweet spot on the neck of the bottle—‘57.’”

Thanks, Heinz. That’s good to know.

Better to know: Where’s your business’ sweet spot?


7 Ways to Get Ketchup Out of a Glass Bottle


nationalHow Was Ketchup Invented?


mMIT’s Miracle Ketchup Bottle Allows Every Last Drop to Slide Out

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