Almost 20 years ago we founded Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report), a venture devoted to serving as a catalyst for companies that wanted to “balance people and profits”. A few brave and innovative chain foodservice executives entered the mostly uncharted waters of collaborating in order to become better competitors. It was a strange and uncomfortable concept then, and for many it still is; sharing proprietary information in order to receive benchmarks and best practices in return. Earning the trust of our Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) members was then and is now our defining core asset. It is the glue that makes this elite consortium of companies work.
Since then we have gone from driving with our eyes closed to TMI. We founded Financial Intelligence (formerly Black Box Intelligence) in 2008, formed a partnership with Consumer Edge Research, co-founded ” Guest Intelligence (formerly Guest Intelligence (formerly White Box Social Intelligence)) with our partners at SocialStrategy1, founded Summer Brand Camp, produced more than a few kick-A events with our partners at BTC Revolutions, transformed Best Practices to Global Best Practices, re-launched Workforce Intelligence (formerly People Report) as interactive software, hired some of the brightest and best, and have loved coming to work “on most days” (*inside joke, still part of our recruitment ads). Last but not least, in 2013 we rebranded the whole company as Black Box Intelligence (formerly TDn2K), “Transforming Data into Knowledge”, perhaps the most important milestone so far on the journey, and a testament to our evolution as a business.
I love to go back through the memories of the Best Practices winners, the Legacy leaders that we started to honor in 2005, the incredible speakers and industry innovators and rock stars, and our amazing community. We have completed thousands of service hours together, we have raised a lot of money for a lot of special organizations in need, and have honored the personal causes of speakers and volunteers. Changers of Commerce, Conscious Capitalism, the Educational Foundation of the NRA, WFF, MFHA, CHART, CRTRA, Share Our Strength, City Year, the North Texas Food Bank; all part of the tangled web that we have been weaving for the past two decades. It took us awhile to be able to say it out loud, but we always cared about making a difference, and we always cared about the industry we serve.
One of our very first keynote speakers was Bill Shore, the Founder of Share Our Strength. He had just published his book, The Cathedral Within. Somehow, I knew before I opened that book that it would be about the “work” of a lifetime, the “work” that we may never finish, the “work” that will become the legacy we leave for better or worse. Since then, Bill Shore has brought many of us along to do the work of ending the tragedy of childhood hunger. He will reminds us frequently, that we are all building cathedrals; unique as snowflakes, but as lasting and powerful as our ideas, determination, and our work. We have held that vision for our “work” for almost two decades.
Next January we are going to come together for the 20th Global Best Practices conference, a rather significant milestone no matter how you are keeping track. We are going to honor the heroes among us, bring back the speakers who have made us better, and enjoy once again the power of this incredible community of competitors, who care so deeply about being successful in a way that makes us all a better industry. Mark January 18th – 20th on your calendar now. It won’t be the same without you!
With perpetual gratitude,