A few years ago, my wife and I were visiting some friends in LA. When we got to our dinner spot, there was a bit of a wait, but it was one of those restaurants where a lot of the kitchen was visible from the floor, and one station in the front particularly caught my eye.
The person that really captured my attention was a salad chef…who was more like a salad artist. Ticket after ticket came in; plate after beautiful plate went out.
These weren’t just some lettuce with a handful of vegetables topped with cheese and dressing…these were works of art, many architected a ½ foot high with vegetables cut and shaped in amazing intricate designs.
What amazed me more than these impressive works of salad-art, was when I looked over the little glass wall and saw the base starting materials. I was expecting to see a bunch of pre-built components that the salad chef was putting together like legos…what I saw was not much different than a normal salad buffet, just a bunch of different greens and veggies.
What was different was how someone with a trained eye and hand could transform these ordinary ingredients into extraordinary masterpieces.
For business leaders, our roles are much the same. We must find unique combinations of the same “base ingredients” as our competitors to deliver extraordinary value to our customers to get them to choose and rechoose our company.
Sometimes this means becoming world-class at one aspect of the value chain, while paying less attention to other areas…sometimes it means compiling the best talent…other times it’s creating the best team dynamic and culture making the whole greater than the sum of its parts.
The point being, we are all that salad chef, with one big exception: there’s no recipe or training. We have the freedom, and also the burden, to create our masterpiece from scratch, to create our piece of business art in the way that best expresses who we are and what type of company we want to build and lead.
If you are going to make a salad, you might as well do it in a cool and interesting way.
If you are going to lead an organization, you might as well do that in a cool and interesting way as well.
How can you take the ingredients in front of you and create something unique, something different, something memorable?
Because nobody needs another boring salad…or business.