Doing far too much not well enough


"Spaghetti alla chitarra" and Bologn...

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Riding for a fall

My wife and I have been away recently, which has meant eating in restaurants rather more than we usually do. I love restaurant watching. So often one can see in a very short time the very best business practices and some of the worst.

We ate in a hotel several times. The first time the food and service was really quite good. The second and third times were really less than successful. After the second, maybe we shouldn’t have dined there a third time, but circumstances rather meant that we had to.

What’s cooking?

The third time of dining the menu was fairly unappealing but we tried to pick our way through. My wife’s starter was good but then it was plainly Waitrose’s finest lemon sole goujons so I would expect it to be. My starter was spaghetti bolognese. At least it was supposed to be. It was really only beef mince in a not very nice gravy on a bit of spaghetti. If either my wife or I had produced such a poor “spag bol” for the other, words would certainly have been said. Maybe we should have volunteered to take over in the kitchen.

Two of our party ordered trout. It was dried out and burned round the edges. Whether it had come out of the pan like that or just sat on very hot dinner plates for too long before being delivered I have no idea, but the dishes were not fit for purpose. When we complained about the fish and the menu we were told that we could have ordered from an “a la carte” menu which we had no idea existed because the waiters never mentioned it. It was nowhere to be seen in the restaurant.

Run too fast, fly too high

However, the main problem was the kitchen. The chef might be quite capable but is trying to do everything on his own. He cheats with the goujons. He can’t watch the trout, which should have had his total attention while it was cooked, plated and out of the kitchen. There is simply too much to do and he fails. He probably couldn’t have coped with the “a la carte” menu anyway.

This is all too often the way many small businesses fail. They try to do too much without the resources to do anything properly.

I subcontract quite a lot. I decline to do quite a lot of work I am asked to do because it is not valuable or cost-effective and because someone else would do it better than I. In my business we do what we are good at and so that we can provide the best service. That is what most of us in business do, don’t we?

Do you see businesses who are under-resourced and overstretched? If you can’t stand the heat…

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