The Art and Science of Operational Processes

Posted by Sneha Bhatt on October 18, 2015

I joined the JuntoTeam a month ago. At that point, the JuntoIII Apprentices were more than three quarters through their cohort. The first sessions I attended included MentorTeam meetings for Medtelligent and Earlybird, a Human Resources Tutoring roundtable, and a Class that was a field trip to Nick’s Pizza & Pub in Elgin.

One of the reasons I joined Junto was that it is a great learning institution. Being a lifelong learner, I got my first lesson at the Operations and Metrics class at Nick’s Pizza & Pub, led by Nick Sarillo and his colleague, Amy Gustafsson. One of the topics that Amy spoke about, and that Nick writes about in his book, “A Slice of Pie: How to Build a Big Little Business”, is the “Art and Science” of daily tasks.

When Amy asked the Apprentices if they had heard of this terminology, not a single person put up their hand or said “Yes”. As I quickly looked around the room, I could see she piqued a lot of people’s interest.


It is a method used at Nick’s to document the operations of a business. Any task can be broken down to elements that are both "art" as well as "science."

Nick Sarillo writes, “The science part are the objective tasks or actions the team member must perform to make sure the job is done right, while the art part comprises the more subjective elements of the task – the places where different individuals can diverge in how they get the job done”. Thus, the “art” is the softer skills of a task; the “science” is the non-negotiables, the specific items that must be done for the tasks. The definition of a company’s success and excellence will define how in-depth they will break down a task.

Nick’s Pizza & Pub use this stringent method of excellence in their training of new team members. For example, when a new team member is learning how to make Nick’s Signature Pizza, the “science” is that there are 60 nickel-sized pieces of sausage on a pizza, each a thumb distance apart, and that should all be placed in 60 seconds. The "art" is that the pizza-maker can lay down the sausage in any direction or form he/she wants (clockwise, counterclockwise, up-down, down-up, etc.) as long as the other criteria are met.


“Art & Science” is important to the operating of an organization because it allows flexibility for a person to bring their individuality to daily tasks while being mindful of the purpose of the task. When expectations are clearly defined, there is no room left for guessing. It requires minimum to no direct supervision, freeing up managers and supervisors to focus on other things. It is an effective system of delegation to meet operational commitments.

At Nick’s Pizza & Pub, every single daily task is broken down by digging as deep as possible within the “Art & Science” format. A number of elements are written into every job description that contribute to what the Nick’s team calls “Moments of Magic”. For example, answering the phones correctly.

The “science” of answering the phone is to do it within three rings, identify the restaurant (Nick’s Pizza & Pub) and location, give your name, time of day, and communicating an action step such as “How can I help you?”. The “art” is things like the tone and energy with which the team member answers the phone, what order he/she states the "science" elements, and being cognizant of what the person is saying on the the other side of the phone.


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