What Leaders Can Learn from My Blender

After making a transformation and performance shift, don't neglect the business end of the transformation (the people and culture).

Blender

Insight can come in simple moments.

As photographer and author Chris Orwig said in his TEDx Talk, Finding the Magnificent in the Mundane, “beauty can be found in unexpected places… by savouring the moments in life.” The other day I paused while cleaning my blender and found meaning in a simple act - a metaphor which crystallized my thinking on an aspect of sustaining dramatic improvements in performance.

“It’s always more efficient to clean-as-you-go”

My family loves smoothies. So much so, we own a Vitamix. It’s central to our kitchen and even accompanies us on vacations. It is one of those workhorse appliances that nothing else can replace, and it has justified our initial investment a thousand times over. Its brought joy and health to our family.

The Vitamix has this really cool feature: You don’t have to disassemble the jug and when you finished blending, you just rinse, add hot water and a squirt of soap, close the lid, firing it up full blast, rinse, tip over and let dry. The clean-up experience eclipses any blender I’ve used in the past- because it’s so easy.

But, if you wait to clean-up, watch out. Let sit, old smoothie forms a tenacious coating 3M could patent, and it creates a breeding ground for bacteria.

The business end of a Vitamix (the jug), with it’s tight conical shape (providing the supersonic torque needed to liquefy any fruit or veg), contains a viciously sharp set of what I can only assume are indestructible adamantium blades. Cleaning out dried-on crud, takes time I don’t have, poses a threat to my fingers I don’t need, and is absolutely no fun at all.

I’ve learned it’s always more efficient to "clean-as-you-go", rinsing away the remnants of the last great mix-up, leaving the vessel clean to go to work again in an instant. Clean-as-you-go is a basic commandment in commercial kitchens, and for good reason.

As a leader, do you clean-as-you-go?

After investing time, money and effort to shift your business (perhaps a new product, market, process, technology, strategy, or value…) have you forgotten to rinse right away?

“Make a habit of not only defining what the new state is… define what it is not.”

Don’t mix things up, dispense all that delicious goodness, and then neglect the business end of the transformation (the people and culture). If, after making a performance shift, you don’t rinse the crud off right away it will dry where it sits. That sludge will create risk and confusion you don’t need. It’s the breeding ground for dissent and conflict. When you finally have to deal with it, it will resist - taking substantially more effort to remedy than it would have if dealt with immediately.

Part of making a silky smooth transformation and being ready for the next one, has to be the clean-up. Make a habit of not only defining what the new state is… define what it is not. Proactively help those around you rinse off outmoded assumptions, legacy processes, defunct values and out-flanked strategies.

Keep on mixing it up, bring Joy and Health to your company and… clean-as-you-go!

Want to shake up the thinking on your team? Want to mix this habit into your transformation efforts? Please share this article and continue the conversation!

Part of making a silky smooth transformation and being ready for the next one, has to be the clean-up. Make a habit of not only defining what the new state is… define what it is not. Proactively help those around you rinse off outmoded assumptions, legacy processes, defunct values and out-flanked strategies.