Movie Quote Thursday – Corrugated Boxes


Movie Quote Thursday – Corrugated Boxes

When I was opening new restaurants for TGI Friday’s around the country, it was common practice to emulate some of the more storied locations because they epitomized the standards that we strove to achieve. The Washington D.C. restaurant was one of those storied locations. So, after telling my kids many stories about my restaurant days from long ago, we entered the TGI Friday’s in downtown Washington D.C. last week filled with genuine excitement, them for seeing the environment I had described so many times before, me for hoping to catch a moment of nostalgia.

Unfortunately, time has seen the chain change drastically over the years. The menu, the uniforms, the level of service, and the atmosphere – all of it was very different, and well…worse in almost every conceivable way. Their excitement quickly dissipated, and my nostalgia remained sourced from memories alone. We saw many historical sites on our trip, sites whose caretakers have the sole purpose of preserving history. Few restaurants can lay claim to being “historical”, and certainly that one has lost any sense of continuity with its past.

What wasn’t lost though, were the principles that the restaurant chain was built on – at least in the fact that those important principles were adopted by people like me who then applied them to future careers. One particular principle that I learned back then was based on the “Corrugated Box Theory.” Friday’s had many theories that taught us the company’s values and ideals, and this particular one was about communication.

Each of the restaurants back then had expensive Tiffany lamps hanging over each table. The Corrugated Box Theory came from the idea that the boxes that were designed to provide safe package, delivery, storage, and preservation of expensive lamps were as important as the lamps themselves. The lamp might have cost $5,000, but the $10 cardboard box was just as valuable. After all, if the box was designed improperly – if the flute direction and inner supports were engineered wrong, the lamps could arrive cracked, broken, and even completely crushed. Oftentimes, the delivery vessel is as important as the item that’s being delivered.

As in the delivery of Tiffany lamps, packaging our communication is equally important. It is critical to take time to properly engineer the manner in which we communicate – and not just on the messages themselves. By caring about how the person receiving the message might take delivery of the communication, and not just about the actual words we are trying to send to them, we can more effectively ensure that the words are received well. How many times have you ruined a message because of the way you sent it, and how many times have you paid attention to someone’s delivery rather than on what they were actually saying?

We need to think about how our “corrugated boxes” are designed before putting a valuable item inside. After all, you don’t want to lose the content because the packaging was flawed.

Here are a few movie quotes that speak to the point.

“Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; thirty percent is your tone. That means that ninety percent of what you’re saying ain’t coming out of your mouth.” –Will Smith in Hitch

“Some people without brains do an awful lot of talking.” –Ray Bolger in The Wizard of Oz

“If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” –Thumper in Bambi

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” –Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke