Abstract

The story of Chase and Sanborn Coffee provides a great morality tale for all organizations, including libraries, about how small changes may lead to larger problems down the road. Chase and Sanborn ranked with Maxwell House as one of the leading coffee brands in the early twentieth century. They were known not only for their fresh sealed coffee, but also for the Chase and Sanborn Hour variety show that featured many stars, including Don Ameche, Nelson Eddy, and Edgar Bergen with his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy. In the years after World War II, there was a belief at the company that they could make small changes to the process to reduce costs, without changing the quality that much. A similar decision was made earlier this year by Maker’s Mark to reduce their alcohol for their Kentucky Bourbon as a cost-reduction plan to help boost profits.

Using these two examples from the business world, the presentation will explore how small decisions can, over time, fundamentally change the very nature of any organization. For the library, the presentation will show how modest and sometimes seemingly consequence-free decisions about resources and services that a library provides can snowball into a complete change in the overall perception of the library. So changes that seem minor at the time, when considered together, transform and, more importantly, potentially undermine what the library is attempting to provide for their community. In the light of continued encroachment on a libraries space and budget, this type of conundrum might be easier to fall into than we might think or like.

DOI

10.5703/1288284315288

chase.jpg (40 kB)
Chase and Sanborn Coffee

Makers.jpg (69 kB)
Maker's Mark

G2G1.jpg (31 kB)
Good to Great

G2G2.jpg (32 kB)
Great to Good

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Bitter Coffee and Watered-Down Bourbon: Lessons for Libraries from Chase and Sanborn Coffee and Maker’s Mark

The story of Chase and Sanborn Coffee provides a great morality tale for all organizations, including libraries, about how small changes may lead to larger problems down the road. Chase and Sanborn ranked with Maxwell House as one of the leading coffee brands in the early twentieth century. They were known not only for their fresh sealed coffee, but also for the Chase and Sanborn Hour variety show that featured many stars, including Don Ameche, Nelson Eddy, and Edgar Bergen with his wooden dummy Charlie McCarthy. In the years after World War II, there was a belief at the company that they could make small changes to the process to reduce costs, without changing the quality that much. A similar decision was made earlier this year by Maker’s Mark to reduce their alcohol for their Kentucky Bourbon as a cost-reduction plan to help boost profits.

Using these two examples from the business world, the presentation will explore how small decisions can, over time, fundamentally change the very nature of any organization. For the library, the presentation will show how modest and sometimes seemingly consequence-free decisions about resources and services that a library provides can snowball into a complete change in the overall perception of the library. So changes that seem minor at the time, when considered together, transform and, more importantly, potentially undermine what the library is attempting to provide for their community. In the light of continued encroachment on a libraries space and budget, this type of conundrum might be easier to fall into than we might think or like.