By Tina Dietz
August 28th, 2013 Edition
I love food. Some of you may have heard me in the past refer to myself as an “Italian Grandmother in Training,” and I ain’t kidding. This maven loves slow food, great conversation, and the complexity of taste and texture that make for great cuisine. Cooking, aside from producing delicious results, comes with a few metaphors that make great business advice. Here, have a nibble…
1. Call in Your Sous Chef: There are always going to be things that will get done better if they’re done by someone else. It may be because you don’t have the expertise that’s called for, or it may be that a great assistant handling the minor tasks will free you up to do what you do best. Make sure you call upon others early enough in the game to allow the task to be completed. This can be a learning curve for you in terms of being able to let go and effective communication and management, but the results are worth the simmering time.
2. Prep Everything Before Cooking: Food and business both go fast, so it is always a good plan to have a recipe (5 Year Strategic Vision Plan), and to prep ingredients and tools before you start. Rarely do things go exactly like you planned, but if you have a plan, you know what you’re doing the majority of the time and you can experiment with the spices, or try substituting one ingredient for another on the fly. All that’s left for you to handle is the unexpected turns, which will need your full attention anyhow. When you have a well crafted recipe, you can experiment more effectively.
3. Slice Things Small: When you cut your ingredients to a small size, everything cooks quickly. In the same way, taking the time to divide up the tasks you are trying to accomplish into small, actionable steps gives you an opportunity to manage the project time more effectively. Slicing and dicing takes skill, so practice and you’ll be julienning your next marketing campaign or product launch with the flair of Julia Child.
4. Cook Ingredients in the Right Order: If you just throw everything into the pan at the same time, you’re asking for food that is not going to taste very good. Give your outside resources or team enough time to do what they do brilliantly, and do yourself the same favor. Some projects require a long roasting time, others are a quick sauté. Taste your “dishes” frequently and adjust as you go.
5. Don’t Over-Cook: Perfectionism leads to paralysis. The problem is that if you wait too long, you’ll ruin everything. There’s a fine line between “golden brown and delicious” and “burned to a crisp.” Sometimes striving for perfection just ends up with something too tough for your customers to chew and swallow. Knowing this you can temper your need for perfection with the need to get the plates on the table and your guests, that is, your customers, served. You might discover that, like a juicy steak, a little underdone might just be better.