System Execution Episode 3: Implementing a visioning process in your business, with Ari Weinzweig
System Execution explores the strategy and system behind today’s successful companies. Systems can make or break a company but here we’ll solve physical, technological, and psychological systems issues by connecting listeners with experts who have overcome these challenges in their business.
Ari Weinzweig is CEO and co-founding partner of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. Zingerman’s produces and sells a variety full-flavored, traditional foods in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Each business is unique and has something different to offer, whether it’s their flagship Zingerman’s Delicatessen, Coffee Company or Korean Restaurant.
Weinzweig has been celebrated in the food industry and is an author of many published articles and books.
But when he graduated from the University of Michigan, Weinzweig says he had no vision. He stayed in Ann Arbor and stumbled upon a dishwashing job. He eventually moved up in the restaurant business.
“I came to love food and cooking pretty quickly,” he said.
When Weinzweig was burnt out with his management job, he gave notice. Two days later, his previous manager and soon-to-be partner, Paul Saginaw suggested the two look at a building where they could open a deli they’d always talked about.
They opened four months later. That was 34 years ago, and now they have approximately 10 businesses in the Ann Arbor area.
Managing the vision of all those businesses takes time. And for Zingerman’s, it wasn’t ever a single statement.
“When you have 100 or 50 or whatever people working with you, they don’t have that emotion that you and I might have for the vision, because it’s not their vision,” Weinzweig says. “By really spelling it out in much more detail and telling stories basically within the vision, it really comes alive in a way that becomes meaningful to everybody.”
They spent a year ideating and outlining their idea for their community of Zingerman’s businesses, each with its own specialty, a passionate managing partner, and all operating as one synergistic organization.
Zingerman’s vision doesn’t just account for the founders’ vision, but the entire Zingerman’s community. They work collaboratively with all their employees to build a stronger statement.
“I would suggest that an inclusive, collaboratively written, engaging vision where you really bring people into the process,” Weinzweig said. “Help them understand A how to do it, and then B why it matters, and then C listen to their input and incorporate as much of it as you can. You end up with a far more powerful document, it’s richer.”
One of Zingerman’s businesses also revolves around leadership and training, where they also teach a two-day seminar on visioning, among other business-oriented resources.
To contact Ari Weinzweig:
- Website (for food mail order): zingermans.com
- Website (for business training): zingtrain.com
- Website (for general info): zingermanscommunity.com
- New Book: “Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4; A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business”