The Free Lunch & Cooperative Advantage
For the IRS a free lunch is just another perk. From a Competitive Advantage perspective, a free lunch is another incentive to attract independent actors who are trying to maximize their utility. This gives them a little more utility because they do not need to spend money on lunch. A recent Wall Street Journal article Silicon Valley Cafeterias Whet Appetite of IRS cites the IRS argument that free lunches are a taxable fringe benefit. Technology companies such as Google Inc., Facebook Inc., and Twitter Inc. long have provided their employees with free gourmet meals.
If you look at this practice from a Cooperative Advantage mindset you see the world quite differently. You might ask, “How can our employees best innovate and deliver value together?” In exploring the answer to this question you would discover that enticing employees to eat tasty and healthy food together is a great innovation device. The best and most innovative ideas are generated when people with differing perspectives and skills interact in a positive dynamic atmosphere. What better place than a vibrant in-house cafeteria to stimulate the kind of high-energy ideas that have flowed from such Silicon Valley eateries as Coupa Café, University Café or the Peninsula Creamery.
Posted by David Sherman