Making a quality meal
If I am deciding on a menu choice, I am unlikely to choose soup. I can’t really understand why somebody would take some lovely fresh ingredients, boil them together in one saucepan, then liquidise the life out of them. The end result is invariably non-descript in colour, unpleasant in consistency and texture and generally unsatisfying as a meal.
On the very rare occasions I have enjoyed soup, it has been because a very skilled chef has carefully considered and planned the entire production of the dish. A good soup will never be made from expecting a limp carrot to cook itself or hoping that a tired cabbage leaf will perk up enough to leap into a pan of water. Ingredients don’t work by themselves. They have to be nurtured and celebrated. With the right skill, care, encouragement and commitment however, any ingredients can produce a good result.
But before I dismiss the soup option on my menu, I will consider this – the success in creating a good soup is much like the success of creating an effective quality management system. In the same way that the end result of the soup-making process is in the hands of the chef, the process involved in running a successful business is in the hands of the board directors. Good chefs, like good directors, will understand what they need to do with the resources they have available, where they need to invest more focus, what results they want to achieve, and what needs to happen to achieve them. When things go wrong, they are willing to learn what needs to happen to put things right. They will consider the risks, and celebrate the success.
A quality management system is the whole soup-making process, from start to finish. Quality management is business management and its success depends entirely on the direction from the board. It is not a separate ingredient that should remain forgotten, intentionally or otherwise until there is no life left and it is discarded. At best, the results you will achieve from your quality management system that has no direction from start to finish will be to end up with supermarket tinned version. Cheap perhaps, but achieving poor results which are not satisfying or worth the effort.
The challenge is in getting a board of directors to think like chefs. Perhaps not expert chefs to begin with, but remembering that most people can taste the difference between a soup that has been hand-made with some thought to the production against one that has come from a tin with no planning or thought at all. Any attention to the process will achieve better results.
So although I am unlikely to choose soup from a menu, if I knew there was a chef committed of the process, it would certainly influence my decision, and who knows, I may be tempted by a bowl of soup one day. Croutons anyone?