March 19, 2018 - Comments Off on Order Ahead @ Sonic Drive-in

Order Ahead @ Sonic Drive-in

It's been a great few years... pulling and pushing and progressing the brand towards Order Ahead. No one else does Order Ahead personalization like Sonic -- If you were to build a Order Ahead footprint/concept in today's day and age, you would build a Sonic Drive-In (Elon... seriously, let's talk).


Recap: It's been a pleasure leading the teams working to make this happen. First in 2014-2015, coming on-board at SONIC focusing on Digital Innovation, a small team tasked with creating the future of burgers at SONIC. The first year we built a new POPS experience both UX/UI and backend functionality. We also remade, folding in a re-imagined web presence and mobile first menu with our backend CRM -- My SONIC -- enabling users ability to login, track rewards, create favorites, and check gift card balances. In addition to the new site and POPS experience, we also delivered a Proof of Concept (POC) of loyalty. This loyalty experience included separate check-in and reward injection experiences on mobile and POPS -- as well as our first GAP experiences POC (Mobile check-in to POPS).

The learning from this POC allowed us to create the best Order Ahead experience in the QSR industry, an omni-channel experience with personalized check-in and carhop delivery.

The POC also uncovered some needed work on our backend infrastructure, and in 2016, I was given the chance to lead teams down in MarTech (formerly IT). My specific role was to lead technology delivery on the ICE platforms (POPS, Mobile, APIs, Web), a collaborative effort with our Product Team, Enterprise Architecture, and App Services to first migrate our legacy codebase on in-house servers into the cloud, and secondly to retire the monolithic API codebase. We spent the better part of a year strategically breaking apart these core functions into multiple micro services that could feed omni-channel platforms.

With the infrastructure in place, and our new continuous delivery model churning out production releases of new APIs daily, it was time to build. So, in 2017-2018, I was asked to come back to Marketing to lead Product Management of Order Ahead on multiple platforms (POPS, Mobile, POS, Digital Menu Management, and Web), each with their own Product Manager, vision, roadmap, and budget.

Needless to say, it has been a ride and I couldn't be happier at the progression.

Now for some shout outs: First off, the vision of our Sonic leadership to get us in this position to deliver has been phenomenal. Over 5 years in the making, a great problem to solve, with fantastic support from our executive sponsors. And I could not say enough about our teams -- a hard working, focused, collaborative group of developers, project managers, product managers, designers, producers, business analysts, enterprise architects, and operations (in-store technical and operational leadership) working as one team. Truly a great group of individuals, scattered across the US and Brazil!! BIG thanks to each and everyone that had a part in creating this game changer for SONIC!!

Now let's keep adding some features!! #roadmap #productmanagement #productleadership

Press: #3 on the Franchise 500: Sonic Drive-In Looks to the Future Sonic brings 'order ahead' to Oklahoma City

Payments Journal: Sonic Serves Up Mobile Order And Pay

Nation's Restaraunt News: Sonic banks on order-ahead platform Why Sonic is Ready to Change the Convenience Game Sonic Just Unveiled An Ordering App That Makes Other Drive-Thru Feel Ancient

KATC Lafayette: SONIC Drive-In chooses Lafayette as test market for new Order Ahead app feature

Business Insider: Sonic has a new weapon to compete with McDonald's and Chick-fil-A

QSR Magazine: Sonic's Digital Strategy Could be a Game-Changer

The Spoon: Sonic Drive-In Rolls Out Its Mobile Ordering System Just in Time for Summer


January 29, 2017 - Comments Off on Tears in my eyes

Tears in my eyes

There are tears in my eyes,
yet I’m too afraid to cry.

as they well up, I put
my mind against them.

I cross my strong arms,
and build a wall.


I am scared of what
the tears will say.

That I am
not in control.


I am none of these things,
these are alternative facts.

Tears must be
left to run,
to fall,

Tears uncover truth,
and expose empathy.

In allowing myself to
feel the pain of the other,
the strength of their resolve,
persistance in calamity,
hope in tragedy.

I am human,
just as them.

So put things in place,
applications, interrogation,
and backgrounds checks.

But not a wall.

Don’t deny those who’ve
jumped through hoops,
crossed their t’s
and dotted countless i’s.


Soften your strong arms,
and take down biased walls.

Be Justice.
Be Peace.
Be Hope.

For this is America.
And it is ours.


When I think about the current situation, I continue to retire to the words graven in stone, at the feet of, our Lady Liberty,

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.
I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

And I wonder what we have to lose with this inciteful rhetoric coming from the Oval Office?
I would assume laws cannot be breached as the courts act as our balance. The orders though, have become more brazen, the interpretations more muddy, and repercussions felt globally. It seems we may have a lot more to lose then we may have thought.

Which means Lady Justice may have to raise her sword and actually do some work over the next four years.

*From "The New Colossus" an 1883 Emma Lazarus poem quoted on the Statue of Liberty.


Also this, please take 5 minutes to listen to Sir Ian McKellen quote some Shakespearre… which is quite interesting, as we as humans have always had to deal with the fear of “strangers in our land”:

August 29, 2016 - Comments Off on rapid adaptation

rapid adaptation

The economic problem of (an organization) is rapid adaptation to changes in its particular circumstances. Then, the ultimate decisions must be left to the people who are familiar with these circumstances, who know directly of the relevant changes and of the resources available to meet them. This problem cannot be solved by first communicating all this knowledge to a central board which then issues its orders. But the “man on the spot” cannot decide solely on the basis of his limited but intimate knowledge of his immediate surroundings . There still remains the problem of communicating to him such further information as he needs to fit his decisions into the whole pattern of changes of the larger (organizational) system.

-- Friedrich Hayek, Nobel Laureate in Economics

My thoughts...
These phrases jump out at me, “rapid adaptation” and “people who are familiar with these circumstances.” The main problem in large scale projects and integrated solutions, is that the people familiar with the circumstances and the right solution are rarely consulted when decisions are made, causing “rapid adaptation.” It is a vicious cycle of infinite regression, where the people with the least context, continually set the forward looking vision. Future looking roadmaps created by Vice Presidents of said company are an example of this style of decision making--rarely right they prophesize their own demise with the creation of boundary oriented documents.

The horizon strategy seems much more pragmatic, look toward a point on the horizon, and judge the success of the project by the accomplishments of goals leading to that point on the horizon. Instead of swimming lanes with product features that are endlessly edited and erased.

August 15, 2016 - Comments Off on This Tree of Ours

This Tree of Ours

If this community is a tree,
we are roots, and bark, and trunk,
with limbs, and leaves and blossoms.
Yes, you and them,
him and her,
he and she,
each a part of this beautiful tree.

Our roots find their way through the soil,
digging through dirt rich in the blood of martyrs,
testimonies and teaching feed our growth.

Beneath this layer is the bedrock of our faith,
this Jesus — the beginning and the end,
the living word, God incarnate.

His spirit is the aquifer flowing throughout,
bringing living water upwards to quench our thirst,
for life, for meaning, for faith and grace.

Teachers and preachers establish our trunk,
Words and pictures of how we are to,
react and respond in the ups and downs of life.

Our tree is encircled with a protective bark,
those who serve among us,
arms wrapped around, pulling us together.

The sap beneath our bark, is our lifeblood,
encouragers whose words are sweet, and long lasting,
through dark nights and long winter days.

The apostles among us grow outward,
branches and limbs ever expanding,
a covering from the storms around us.

The new shoots and leaves are our prophets,
soaking up the SON, they spur us upward,
for a season they do their work, and then rest. abide.

The blossoms are the merciful,
their beauty draws us in, healing flows from their nectar,
their prayers prepare us, for the coming harvest.

Producing fruit is why we are here,
planted in this place, in this soil,
justice, peace, and grace are the flavors we create.

The Gospel Message then is found,
is acted out, is incarnate… in us,
in these pews.

This community is a tree,
we are roots, and bark, and trunk,
with limbs, and leaves and blossoms.
Yes, you and them,
him and her,
he and she,
each a part of this beautiful tree.