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In the zombie movie “World War Z” (2013), a scene in Jerusalem alludes to this anti-groupthink doctrine called the tenth man, or devil’s advocate (red team), set up by Israelis after the Yom Kippur War in 1973. Although a huge, seemingly impenetrable wall built as a result of this leadership doctrine wasn’t enough to save Jerusalem in the movie (as it turns out, Israelis enjoy singing loudly too, which attracts zombies and seals their fate), the tenth man may be just what many chains need.
Chain restaurants should consider this tenth man philosophy seriously. Working in businesses closely related to the restaurant industry for nearly 15 years, I understand the temptation to do things the way they’ve always been done and the extent of the ego of many restaurant execs, head chefs and restaurant owners.
Rather than followers or trendsetters, chains should strive to be pacesetters first. The former implies longevity and a true leadership position in its category and segment. The former also translates into sustained profits. Adopt the tenth man philosophy or become a zombie. If the internal structure and resources aren’t there, then create them or outsource to someone. There are many professionals that can help, including me.