I started making last night’s dinner 36 hours ago. It was the best plate of ribs my family had ever eaten, it was the easiest meal I’ve ever cooked, and it will serve as the backdrop of this week’s tidbit.
A few months ago a client was telling me about the secret to achieving the perfect steak. It required almost no work, and you could guarantee a steak on par with the world’s greatest steakhouses. He introduced me to the world of Sous Vide cooking. For those unfamiliar, the sous vide method uses food in vacuum sealed bags, dropped in a water bath, and cooked at the perfect temperature. If you like your steak cooked medium-rare, you vacuum seal the steak and drop it in the water bath at 132°F for 45 minutes. Remove the steak, sear it in an ultra-hot cast iron pan for a few seconds on each side and you’re done.
I purchased a sous vide device called the Anova which clips onto any pan, heats your water to the desired temperature, and automatically sets the timer. It couldn’t be easier to achieve restaurant-quality results.
If you’ve ever wondered the secret to high-end restaurants serving up the perfectly cooked steak; perfect eggs, wonderfully cooked Duck confit, well now you know. The sous vide method is used by some of the world’s top chefs in the world’s top restaurants. So you might be wondering, what’s the big lesson we can all learn from this?
I believe there are three.
1) Precision predicts results.
A sous vide device is all about precision. A small pump keeps the water both circulating, and a heating element keeps perfect the water at the perfect throughout the entire cook. It reminds me about one of the top rules I’ve used with clients to improve the adoption of process and expectations. One rule, in particular, was used when we couldn’t get compliance to the new CRM we had put in place. The rule was simply, “If it’s not in the CRM, it didn’t happen.”
To keep such precise temperatures, it’s constantly measured. The device doesn’t take the temperature every three hours, and say to itself, “It was doing alright three hours ago, so it’s probably fine.” It’s always checking. How much more confidence would you have in your sales team’s projections if you knew the last measurement was taken in the last 24 hours, rather than in the last 24 months?
2) You CAN set & forget your way to success.
One of the most important things about using a sous vide machine is to just get the food in the water and to do it early. It does no good to start a twelve-hour cook three hours before, and trying to “rush” it by upping the heat will completely defeat the purpose of using the tool.
Similarly, there are things in every company that are easy to do, but that need to be done early. Just ask any Tony Hsieh of Zappos about the importance of company culture, and how hard it is to implement or alter it “later.” There are many areas in our companies where the optimal time to do something may have been three years ago, but failing to get access to a time machine, doing them now is the only logical choice.
“I know we should do something about it, but we’ve got this far without it” isn’t a winning long-term strategy.
3) The right tools open up opportunities you’d never otherwise have.
It’s hard to hammer nails with a ham sandwich, and it’s even more difficult to effectively manage your sales and marketing efforts without the tools in place to allow you to see who is doing what, and what impact it’s having.
Marketing managers need to know the details of every client who comes in from every source to determine how much they’re willing to spend on generating leads & clients from those sources. Sales managers need to be able to see the deal flows of each of their salespeople to better coach, train, assign leads to. And senior managers need to have some way to measure whether or not the people under them are improving or just treading water.
If, instead, these groups are relying on gut feel, annual performance reviews, and comparisons to the previous year’s results, well…I’d rather hammer nails with the ham sandwich.
This week’s key challenge: Send me a message and tell me if there areas of your business where you know you need more precision, or where you know you could use new tools and procedures. In which areas of your business have you been relying on old, outdated methods hoping to get your desired results? Let me know, and I’ll give you a few suggestions.