Great Chefs know that taking a list of ingredients and making them into a great meal requires the team to work together with a common vision. In a restaurant that shared vision is very clear, in the workplace it can be less so.
Unlike workplace teams which often struggle to define a common vision, identify their strengths and weaknesses and negotiate shared responsibilities – teams who cook together identify these things easily. In the kitchen everyone understands the vision and accepts that they are accountable to the team for the outcome. Since the first step is simply to decide who is qualified to take the lead on making which recipes, the negotiating of responsibility happens without the ego that can pop up in workplace negotiations. Cooking skills equalize and to get the meal finished the boss often takes on a support role and the office coordinator steps up to be the boss.
And it doesn’t stop there. Once the team starts to work on the meal it’s easy to see who took on too much of the workload, who’s falling behind, who’s pitching in, who follows directions, who’s able to keep up with the timeline, who’s thinking ahead, who’s minding the clock to coordinate the outcome, and who naturally takes the lead.
And when the shared vision is to create an excellent meal you don’t need to hire a consultant to evaluate the outcome, it’s obvious: did the meal come together on time? does it look good? does it taste good? are any missteps obvious or was the team able to rethink the dish to accommodate a mistake?
Getting a team away from the drudge of getting through the day and taking on a fun and engaging task can ignite an appreciation for teamwork that often goes back with them to the work environment. It can bring joy and fun back to the workplace. And aren’t these things the real reason for team activities? We think they are.