First off, one needs the right tools for the right process. If you want to fry something, you’re going to need a wok or frying pan, a spatula, etc.; if you want to brainstorm ideas, you’re going to need a whiteboard, markers, post-it notes, etc. Of course, the tools alone aren’t sufficient: you need to know the process of going about them. Whether you want to steam or fry or boil; whether you want to have a stakeholder map, point-of-view framework, or empathy map, etc. Knowing what process you’re about to undertake determines the tools that you need for the task.
When it comes to recipes, there are millions of tried-and-true methods and techniques with a certain guaranteed measure of success, but if you want to truly make your work stand out, you’re going to have to deviate from the recipe and change it as you see fit. Change too little and it’s not going to be noticeably different; too much and you run the risk of creating disaster. But risks are necessary to create something new, and it has the potential to turn out to be something well-received. Alas, as the old adage goes, too many cooks spoil the soup, so the leader of a design team needs to ensure that conflicting changes do not take place at the same time.
Of course, chefs may have their own ideal of how a dish should be, but ultimately it is the customer’s preference that determines how their dish is received. Queen Elizabeth II, for example, is said to prefer her Gaelic Steak well done, so the royal chef has no other choice but to prepare her majesty’s steaks well done. Similarly in creative design, regardless of the wonderful ideas we might come up with, it is ultimately the client’s decision as to what does what, and it is for us to fulfil their whims, or at the most advise them if something is simply not feasible.
What other ways do you think creative design and cooking are similar? Let us know in the comments.