Bake Me A Cake

I cannot say enough great things about my wife.  I admire her for being such a great mother to our two boys, for being such a supportive partner during my extensive travels, and a very reliable and sought after confidence boost when I am feeling exhausted.  But one of the most impressive things about my wife is her ability to create sweet, exquisite, “make your mouth water” desserts!  Just when I think she has created her best masterpiece, she outdoes herself and crafts something even better.  My boys and I are truly spoiled!

As I attempt to do with every life experience, I have started to pay particular attention to how she does what she does.  Does she come up with these ideas on her own?  Does she talk to her friends and do they share recipes?  How does she do it?!  Maybe there is a management lesson to learn here?!

Yep…here it is!  I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I just found her secret stash of recorded cooking channel shows.  There must be a hundred shows in her library!  So, during a period of insomnia, I thought I would watch one to see what they are all about.  Not only did I get a sudden rush of hunger at 3am, I discovered something in these shows that can help all of us manage our businesses.  You see, when the chef on these shows is creating these culinary works of art, they are offering constant direction to us, every step of the way.  And, at the very end, they show us what the result is supposed to look like, down to the very specific detail (usually an extreme close up camera angle).

It was this show that reminded me of a management concept I coined a number of years ago called, “Direct and Expect”.  It is a pretty easy concept, really.  To be an effective manager or leader, we need to demonstrate what we want and hold people accountable for their output, even ourselves.  We must, just like the chefs in those cooking programs, direct our employees through each specific step of their responsibilities (recipe) and expect their output to match ours by showing them what it looks like when it is done correctly.  If we offer them the correct direction/instruction, we should expect the result to be exactly what we want.  This way, if we compare less than stellar performance or outcomes to what we have shown them as correct, there is an obvious difference and everyone can see it.  Another way to look at this is if a recipe called for a particular ingredient to make the cake rise (here is my kitchen ineptness shining through) and we didn’t add it, we cannot expect the same outcome and it would definitely be noticeable to everyone.  Just like the average person doesn’t need to graduate culinary school to create some really fantastic dishes, our employees don’t need to be rocket scientists to perform their jobs, they just need to be able to follow your simple recipe.

Our goal:  Look at the duties and tasks in our companies and develop simple, but exact “boxed cake recipe” versions of what needs to be done so the outcome can be exactly what you expect to get.  If the outcome is far off from the desired result, look closely at the recipe then look even closer at the person wearing the apron.  Something’s got to change.

If you are interested in additional management guidance and want to put a Master Chef in your business “kitchen”, shoot me an email at  I’d love to work with you and your team!

Until Next time….


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