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Blaine Hurst On Navigating A Digital Transformation

Blaine Hurst On Navigating A Digital Transformation

Blaine Hurst is the chief transformation and growth officer at Panera Bread. Its Panera 2.0 initiative, which enables digital ordering through an app and in-store kiosks, is reinventing the customer experience and boosting sales.


While Panera 2.0 represents a transformative change, it was not constructed as an overhaul. “I believe in doing a bit of architecture, and then working like heck,” says Hurst. “We could not lose sight of what mattered most to our business, and for whom. That meant defining our priorities, rendering the future we wanted to build, and then embarking on a series of changes implemented over time.”


When Panera began to transition to a radically different operational model, the company knew that it needed to prepare its bakery-cafe teams for what Hurst calls “the inevitable feelings of incompetence” that we all face when encountering drastic change. “Our COO [Chuck Chapman] insisted that everyone understand that these changes would be disruptive for all of us,” says Hurst. “Our learning and development team created a program that helped associates understand that they should expect these feelings. They should embrace the experience.”

See also: How Panera Bread Baked Digital Innovation into its Growth Strategy


When a problem arises, don’t expect the solution to come to you. More often than not, you have to proactively seek it out. “When I get stuck,” says Hurst, “the best thing for me to do is to spend time with our customers, or our franchisees. If I understand the problem—or the opportunity—I begin to see alternative ways to make the experience better.”

This article was created and commissioned by Workday, and the views expressed are their own.FCW