Can I Get A Copy of That Recipe?

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Can I Get A Copy of That Recipe?

I’ll bet you’ve heard that question asked around the Thanksgiving table. I did last Thursday. What prompted the recipe request? My daughter’s pumpkin cheesecake.

Her desert was delicious. Naturally people wanted ‘in’ on how to make it….and perhaps secretly hoping to get the types of kudos my daughter did when they make theirs.

This type of thing happens all the time in organizational life—that is, managers shopping for recipes. After all, why re-invent the wheel? On the surface, the approach seems to make sense. Trouble is, in organizational life recipes (think: things like best practices) don’t always transfer well. Sometimes they fall flat on their face—even after being wildly successful in a different environment.

Do this, add that, wait two weeks…and voila, you get the elusive desired result you’ve been desperately seeking. Recipes are tempting. Busy managers succumb to recipes all the time.

The trouble with adopting recipes in organizational settings is that when they’re adopted blindly they require little, if any, critical thinking. Seeking recipes and adopting them blindly is akin to outsourcing your thinking. Too many managers don’t take the time and energy to engage in the type of critical thinking that will enable their organization (let alone their newfound recipe) to flourish. In the case of the recipe they don’t consider how it fits into the unique circumstances (think: culture) of their organization.

Managers should be asking themselves questions like:

  • What assumptions are we holding about why the recipe worked for others and what are our own assumptions about why we think it will work for us?
  • What is different about our situation than others situation that have had success with this recipe?
  •  After successfully adopting (and adapting) the recipe, how else can we benefit from the fruits of this recipe?

Managers: don’t outsource your thinking. It’s one of your most important responsibilities. There’s nothing wrong with seeking out recipes that others have had success with. Just be prepared to do the critical thinking of what it’ll take to make that recipe successful for you.

In the meantime, I gotta give a shout-out for my daughter’s pumpkin cheesecake. Great recipe, even better daughter.

Bill Wiersma
Bill Wiersma
Bill Wiersma is the founder and principal of Wiersma and Associates—a management consulting and training firm. Bill is a trusted advisor to executive leadership on senior team development and organizational culture. A renowned thought leader, Wiersma’s The Power of Professionalism is driving the way people think about professionals and, more importantly, changing the way professionals view themselves.

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