Zingerman’s Community of Businesses: A Recipe for Building a Positive Business

by: Wayne Baker

Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Length: 30 pages
Product ID#: 1-428-861

Core Disciplines: Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Leadership/Organizational Behavior, Marketing/Sales, Strategy & Management

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Teaching Note

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Over the years, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses (ZCoB) has regularly won accolades and awards – including being named “the coolest small company in America” by Inc. in 2003 – for its food, service, mail order catalog, training, and overall success. This case shows how Zingerman’s went from a single delicatessen in 1982 to nine unique but complementary companies with combined revenues of $45 million in 2012. It details the novel methods ZCoB employs to create “a great place to eat and work” and touches on the challenges it faces moving forward. This case can be used in conjunction with Zingerman’s: New Business Development and Zingerman’s: Broad-Based Ownership, Governance, & Sustainability.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand how mission, strategy, culture, and positive organizational • design fit together
  • Understand how a focus only on financial results does not lead to excellence
  • Analyze the wide variety of concrete procedures and practices that are used to create a positive culture and outstanding results
  • Appreciate how the choices and personal preferences of the founders and leaders play into decisions about strategy and business growth