By Jael Strong
This week, Jackson made vegetable soup. I trust him completely in the kitchen. While he is the originator of “hot dog puree”, he also produces some very tasty concoctions, ranging from marinated roasts to what he calls “beech burner burgers”, savory mini burgers doused with hot sauce. When somebody consistently produces a high quality product infused with creativity, it’s easy to trust him with such serious assignments as dinner for guests. What do you do, though, when your go-to guy falls short, and his product is a flop?
The aforementioned soup had great potential. I did a mid-preparation taste test and it was great. In the final stages, as Jackson filtered in the final spices, he reached for something unusual. He will insist on adding one or two scary ingredients to his recipes, but amazingly his sense of taste typically leads him in the right direction and things turn out stupendously. This time, he chose to add a tiny drop of peppermint oil.
Oh, what a difference that tiny drop made! This colossal pot of soup was suddenly transformed into something reminiscent of liquid spearmint gum. I quickly realized that peppermint soup would be on the dinner table for the next several days and I was certain that we would all be emaciated by the end of the week for lack of desire to consume it.
Solving the problem of a good idea gone bad
What do we do in our professional life when that idea we thought would be great isn’t? Even the most innovative of us will from time to time produce “hot dog puree” or “peppermint soup”, when everyone else is expecting one of our famous burgers or roasts.
Perhaps we can apply the “peppermint soup policy” recently born in our household.
First, we tried enduring the soup. When an idea we have isn’t producing the desired results, sometimes we attempt to just let it ride. We think that maybe everyone will get used to it or the concept will improve over time. Often, as in the case of the soup, we are being delusional. Problems do not fix themselves. If we are operating with a concept that isn’t up to par, we have to be proactive about it.
In our case, we tried throwing a lot of ingredients into the pot in a random, haphazard manner. This didn’t produce the desired results either. If we panic and operate without a game plan, we will not improve the situation. We may spoil some good ideas by mixing them in with the bad ones. We simply don’t know what is going to happen if we get flustered and react without thinking.
What we needed was a plan of action. In our case, it was a cook off competition. Though the idea has not taken full swing yet, it has already produced positive results. Working independently, though with the common goal of creating a better soup, a superior soup has been produced. And while it is not the greatest amalgam, it is quite palatable and tasty with just a hint of peppermint remaining.
What do we learn from this? If in our professional lives we produce a less than desirable product, we should not resign to defeat or panic. We should creatively approach the problem. We shouldn’t be afraid to incorporate others into the problem solving process. And we certainly shouldn’t be afraid of having fun while solving the dilemma. As individuals trying to offer something desirable to an interested audience, we can’t be afraid to experiment with fresh new ideas. Sometimes those ideas will fail. We have to persevere, finding a solution that may not produce one of our greatest products but certainly will produce something of which to be proud.