By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to set the stage for a more productive project. Reading time: 3:13.
The plateful of biscuits on the conference room table seemed out-of-place. Unusual, since no food was ever available at staff meetings. Coffee. Water. And down to business.
The leader had an added agenda item: stimulate his staff to conduct even more research, execute even more preparation than they would normally do in launching a new project.
He knew his words would not be as effective as some sort of demonstration that highlighted the significance of detailed research. Cue the biscuits.
As the leader personally passed the plateful of biscuits to each of his staff, he explained that the word “biscuit” stems from French meaning “twice cooked” – “bis” (twice) and “coquere” (to cook). That’s because biscuits were originally cooked in a twofold process: first baked, and then dried out in a slow oven. The two-step process prevented spoiling and sustained sailors on long voyages.
“In launching our new project today, let’s make sure we fortify our ship with the biscuits of research and analysis,” said the leader, waving a biscuit in his hand, “that is twice cooked to outlast our competition.”
Methodical Preparation is a Key Strategic Tool
Methodical preparation is a key strategic tool that the most effective leaders embrace. To help you enhance your “biscuit baking,” here’s a look at the two-step preparation ritual that Grandma Moses made famous in the world of art.
First American artist Grandma Moses would always frame her art BEFORE laying a single brush stroke to it. “I always thought it was a good idea to build the sty before getting the pig,” said Grandma Moses.
She began her paintings by first framing the masonite board and then painting the masonite background with three coats of flat white paint that would enhance the contrast and accent the brilliance of her oil colors to come. Second –then and only then –Grandma Moses was ready to paint.
Preparation is key. Consider the preparation ritual of architect and author George Nelson. He would spend 20 minutes before each design class as a sophomore in college making a variety of marks with different pencils on a stack of index cards. He studied the tone, value and texture of the lines each pencil could make. Then and only then- George Nelson was ready to design.
Preparation is key. So the next time you’re preparing to launch a major project with your staff, consider the two-step preparation process. Serve biscuits on your gravy train destined for success. Take the measure of your planned feat twice (research) before you take your first –and only—cut at it. Measure twice. Cut once. And butter your biscuits — in leadership thinking.
Preparation is critical to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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