What would Klaus do?

I am lucky to have many friends in many countries and sausage makers make up a good proportion of them.

Sausage makers are by nature larger than life and fun loving but also our businesses are about eliminating variables, managing cost, and selling the sizzle.

An example is Klaus from Denmark, he used to manage a large sausage plant producing extremely consistent sausages with up to 16 production lines. We bonded together over some beers and sausages whilst meeting at trade fairs in Cologne and Paris.

Visit to Westaways

As it happened Klaus was visiting the West Country and it was a real pleasure to welcome him to our factory. I starting to tease him about how small an operation we were compared to his factory, and of course we asked him what he thought about us and the way we were operating.

I find Germans and Danes very structured in their approach, possibly Danes act in a slightly more casual way. However, if you ask either nationality a direct question then you will get a direct response.

“Actually”, Klaus said, “I would rather work in your factory than mine. I like that you are producing a wide range of products and using different recipes and machines to make many smaller batches. My factory is all about small percentage gains in efficiency, or kg per hour, there is no celebration of making something bespoke.”

Klaus spent a morning with Technical and Production Managers Tim and Paddy, he left an enduring impression, and it was so nice for us all to meet up again recently in Frankfurt for more beer and sausage.

Danes demand quality and performance but are not so outspoken about it as the Germans. They are less formal but still insist on a structure and well documented procedures. However, despite being more relaxed and informal Danes will still set targets and expect them to be achieved.

A few months later

Tim, Paddy, and I were discussing the pros and cons of some operation in our factory. We had reached an impasse and there was it seemed no clear answer. Tim then said, “What would Klaus do?”. We all immediately knew the answer!

Of course, we offered Klaus a job as part of the beer and sausage tasting, but he was loyal to his country and his company. But he still has a legacy at Westaways.

Leadership is about knowledge, vision, and clarity.

I would suggest that there is always room for a Klaus in any organisation either virtually, or physically.