The ultimate performance improvement recipe exists.

And it is cheap!

Learn to cook.

Stop buying new recipe books.

Cease to imagine how it is going to taste and start cooking.

Together with the other cooks of your organization.


Probably not as most organizations do not cook : they order to go.


Seth Godin was recently writing about metaphors. I love metaphors as they allow us to see a different perspective and force us to see the links between the stories and reality. The simple action of thinking hard about this frequently the much sought-after reflection that is required to go forward.

So… cooking.


I read between 20-40 management books every year and have been doing so for a number of years. I usually extract a few lessons from each. I usually shy away from recipes, however. The 8-step process of change management, the 5-step leadership ladder, the 4 level pyramid of this and that.

Not that they don’t work… they do!

BUT after the fact.


As we live in very complex environments and as we all have a tendency to think they are “simply complicated”, the way we manage our organizations do not take into account numerous variables and parameters.

Senge was talking about system thinking 25 years ago as the fifth discipline.

Dave Snowden describes the Cynefin model.

Niels Pfleaging summarizes this in his extraordinary Organize for complexity.

These three authors and their books, and a few others, stand very high on my list of favorite reading material.

Because they do not provide recipes.

Maybe a few how-to but no recipes.

BUT… they entice us to try cooking.


All the recipe books are studies for organizations that “made” it. After the fact. As Dave Snowden says,

complexity is understood once the situation has been resolved. Not before.

The goal should not be to reproduce a recipe that has worked somewhere else but to be aware of the subtle signals coming from inside and… start cooking with your own ingredients.


A professional chef will come to your house and use YOUR ingredients, from YOUR drawers and cupboards to create something wonderful.

He is not afraid to try new spice mixes.

He tastes small doses carefully before cooking for a full house.

He discards what does not work.

He tries again to find the perfect solution to create the perfect meal.



He knows the recipe might change next week because of new ingredients, fresh goods availability, budget constraints and the customer’s desire.

But the goal has not changed : feeding the crowd.

No recipe.

A clear mission.

No fear.

And a burning desire to cook.

The ultimate performance improvement recipe.




You liked cooking metaphor? See also recent blog post Are you an amateur or a real cook?.


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