While I was reading Shane Parrish’s Clear Thinking there was a chapter that used the comparison of Chefs vs Line Cooks. Where a chef has a very deep understanding of what they are doing and usually knows where to tweak the process when they’re not getting the desired end result. Whereas a Line Cook usually has no clue what’s going wrong when do go through all the different steps but are not getting the expected end result.
As someone who loves to think about processes as a way to achieve high-quality end results in a scalable way I love this comparison! When thinking about scalability, this means that the way you can scale the business for a great chef is not by trying to get the chef to do even more work or increase the prices at their restaurant. No, it’s about scaling the chef’s knowledge to more people. There are a couple of ways this can be achieved:
- The chef can design a menu and the related processes and incorporate it into a franchise
- The chef can start teaching other people, for example by writing and a selling a recipe book or by creating cooking classes
The part that I always struggle with is when you want to create a great process that’s scalable, but still leaves room for human creativity. Like when I was designing the processes for my e-commerce store that I have since sold. I had a well-documented process to handle customer service requests. One that I had designed by first doing it myself and taking note of any recurring requests and what my thought process was for handeling them. But I also wanted to leave room for my customer service reps to delight customers, which is something that can’t always be easily included into a fixed process. A lot of delight usually comes from giving your representatives the freedom to make their own decisions on the moment. I don’t want people working for me to be acting like robots, but I do want them to have clear guidelines.