DIG: DIG Academy - Discovery, Exploration & Strategy

Getting to the root of things with a farm-to-table Academy initiative.

One of a leader’s greatest frustrations is to find yourself at the crossroads between “I know what needs to be done” and “I don’t if I have the bandwidth.” It happens all the time, from tedious administrative work to that one brilliant campaign you thought of in the shower. But perhaps the worst is one that requires a long game—incremental, maybe even at first invisible, progress that intensifies into business-altering impact seemingly out of nowhere.

Like repairing a foundation before the house falls through, you know it needs to be done, and with urgency. But you’re not exactly sure where the cracks are, you don’t have the right tools, you certainly can’t do it alone, and you’re not in a position to just put everything else on ice while you dig around.

That’s where we step in. Borrowing from the Hightowers of Westeros (Thrones, anyone?): We light the way. We’re your flashlight, shovel, electromagnetic radar—a pod of excavators who can separate dirt from diamonds (and root vegetables).

Here’s how we did it with DIG.

The setup

When DIG’s senior leadership team connected with us, they’d found themselves at this exact crossroads. DIG is a national chain of locally farm-sourced restaurants changing the food game from the roots up. With 31 locations across 4 states sourcing 2m+ pounds of annual produce from 65 hyper-local farms, keeping their house in order is top priority. That begins at DIG Academy, the cross-functional education initiative responsible for onboarding, training, and equipping their people for ongoing, long-term success.

But that's just the start: DIG Academy serve's the company larger purpose of not just leveling up employees, but empowering the next generation of farmers, cooks, and chef.

The DIG team had the vision plus some solid foundations, but knew there were inconsistencies, inefficiencies, and pain points that meant they hadn’t reached the level of clarity and precision necessary to make moves forward.

The considerations

To run a DIG restaurant, you’ve got to be an all-star. The menu changes with the seasons. That’s four complete cycles of regeneration—from kitchen to supply chain, talent, messaging, decor, attitudes, general vibes—per year. Customers who order in Boston and Brooklyn should have the same brand experience. That requires synergy across locations that stay largely independent of each other; DIG empowers their chef operators to run each store like their own small business. While liberating, too much autonomy and not enough training leads to noticeable error. And with a lack of upfront expectation alignment, turnover rates become dangerous.

It was clear DIG Academy needed development —but cross-org initiatives like this take time, resources, and bandwidth that the corporate team simply couldn’t spare. So they dispatched Wavetable to do it for them. To audit, diagnose, and devise a plan that would yank out the weeds and fertilize the rest.

The Exploration

Over the course of 6 weeks, we learned everything there was to learn about DIG’s people—beyond the numbers they drove, and into their motivations, curiosities, skills, talents, frustrations, and unique interpretations of DIG’s needs.

This included (but for the sake of your time is not exhaustive):

  • 10+ hours of interviews with HR representatives, training team members, location managers, and CIT members;
  • on-site field visits;
  • over-the-phone observational field calls;
  • three of our team members exploring every known crevice of the DIG Academy infrastructure from recreating real DIG recipes to test content thoroughness to mapping user journeys and documenting obscure bugs;
  • three composite user personas of internal DIGAcademy stakeholders;
  • an audit of the surrounding industry landscape;
  • and a comprehensive report on all identified vulnerabilities, opportunities, tensions, and inefficiencies.

At the root of everything, we identified opportunities to:

  • Invigorate the new hire process with brand storytelling
  • Prioritize expectation management from the jump
  • Reimagine the LMS to prioritize active learning and efficiency
  • And replace key content so new hires have room to engage, digest, and apply — we’re training for the marathon
  • Package everything in a way that’s easily scalable without HQ overreach

All of this led us to the final stage of any Exploration: A menu of ways forward to bridging your new understanding of reality with our future-focused vision. In total, we came up with 15 bespoke solutions to usher DIG Academy into its next evolution. At the heart of every solution: ease of implementation, impact, scale, and quality of experience.

Now we’re not ones to hand off an ambiguous (albeit aesthetically color-coded) framework and call it a day. Our Solutions come plated with high-level hypotheses, objectives, projections, and immediate steps forward. We can’t divulge their intricacies, but DIG Academy’s menu ranged from program redesigns, content systems, and product prototypes to IRL experiences and programming.

And we delivered the plan not with a mind-numbingly long slide deck, but an intuitive and explorable packet that collated all the key takeaways (along with snappy video walkthroughs), as well as deep dives into our research, and example project builds.

The payoff

We did something right, because we recently wrapped up Phase II together based on this menu.

Click here to read about The Expedition.

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Let’s get down to business.

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