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10 Culinary Secrets of Great Corporate Strategists

If you don’t like the heat, stay out the kitchen. The saying comes from the world of politics, but applies just as strongly to big business. After all, the skills needed to lead a major enterprise are familiar to any halfway decent cook in a well-run kitchen.

There really is a recipe for superior corporate performance and key elements in the mix can often be described in culinary terms.

Here, therefore, are my 10 tips for those hoping to taste business and career success:

  • Quality ingredients essential: Go shopping for cheap people and you get poor results. Hire quality if you want an optimum outcome. Only the best will do.
  • Oven temperature key: Culture determines results. Too hot and intense and you get a sweat shop; too cool and laid back and you cease to be competitive. Don’t burn out your best talent; challenge them and give them space to develop.
  • Get good utensils: To perform at the top your workers, managers and senior colleagues must have access to the right tools. Invest in the best.
  • Plan ahead: Throwing things together at the last minute is a recipe for disaster. Plan, prepare and work in a methodical fashion. 
  • Mix the ingredients well: Build teams with complementary skills that work well together. Balance competencies and watch them cook up a storm.
  • Fresh fruit is best: you can’t create a great dessert with rotten apples. Throw out the bruised fruit and any produce that is well past its sell-by date. One bad apple can taint an entire pantry. 
  • Good recipes spur creativity: Recipes provide a framework. Good cooks know when to stick with the tried and tested and when to innovate. You can depart from an old recipe when appropriate, but think things through before chopping and changing.
  • Dishing up a disaster: Things go wrong in even the best kitchen. Good cooks learn from their mistakes and ensure there’s no repetition.
  • Too many cooks spoil the broth: Be inclusive, encourage participation, but it’s essential to show leadership and take responsibility or the job won’t get done.
  • Leftovers: Don’t throw everything away after one sitting. Smart cooks even make leftovers appetizing. Sustainability and continuity are important. Good ideas don’t ‘go off’ the next day. They can often be revitalized and freshened – ensuring cost and time efficiency in your kitchen. 

Culinary secrets like this serve executive chefs well. Try them in your business and see.

Auguste (Gusti) Coetzer is Director, Executive Search, at TALENT AFRICA, an alliance of Korn Ferry.

December10,2014 The Star Workplace

Recipe For Success

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Corporate Strategists

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