Strategic Thinking: Beyond Where The Cookie Crumbles

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to sharpen your problem-solving skills.

          Are you smarter than a Fifth Grader? Good thing I’m not a guest on that TV show. Turns out I’m about as smart as a third grader. My only consolation is that the third graders introduced me to leader who helped me learn a key leadership lesson. Read on to learn what I did about uncovering hidden resources– especially those hidden in plain view. Let me explain.

        These were no ordinary third grades.

       No these were the The Third Graders at a North Carolina elementary school who challenged Nabisco’s claim  back in the mid 90’s that their Chips Ahoy package of chocolate chip cookies had more than 1,000 chocolate chips in each bag.

     The students broke the cookies down by hand and counted  340 to 680 chocolate chips. I remember counting 671 back then.  Chances  are I may have eaten some of the evidence before it was fully audited.

    Feeling cheated out of their chocolate chips, The Third Graders  wrote an angry letter to the company. Nabisco sent one of their leaders–a food technician -to visit the school in Wadesboro, North Carolina. The visiting leader planned a demonstration in front of all the students :  counting the chips in a newly purchased bag of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies.

The Leadership Lesson I Learned: Cleanse Your Thinking

        Before counting the chocolate chips, the Nabisco leader demonstrated a key leadership principle:clear away the clutter so that you can better define the problem. The Nabisco leader first washed away all the cookie dough from the chocolate chips.  Then the Nabisco leader put the cookies in a colander and rinsed them in a stream of warm water that  dissolved the cookie dough.  And then the Nabisco leader discovered that the students were right!

          There Weren’t 1,000 Chocolate Chips in the Chips Ahoy Bag

       There weren’t 1,000 chocolate chips in the Chips Ahoy bag.  There were exactly 1,181 chocolate chips!

       Now you’re probably thinking how many similar decision-making situations you’ve encountered where you failed to see or utilize hidden resources. After I learned about these Third Graders and their issue with Nabisco, I wondered how many thinking chips I had in my brain that were too covered with the dough to really reveal their full potential. Was I making the best decisions I could or was I at the mercy of the way the cookie crumbles.

       Anyway, the leadership lesson I learned: Cleanse your thinking.  Wash away the dregs. Don’t be so quick with the proverbial paint brush to quickly paint over problems. Remember that no one ever paints a fence or a wall without first washing away all the dirt on it.

        I have vowed  in the future to proactively enjoy all of the potential of my cookies without simply yielding to letting the chips fall where they may. And trying to become smarter than a third grader.

        Today’s ImproveMINT
Cleanse your thinking to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.

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