Have you ever made pancakes? it is a simple process, but it requires the " cook" to be constantly in front of a heating pan. About two minutes per pancake is estimated time until you reach this perfect, gold, crispy look of your house specialty (well, at least my house specialty). However, this two minutes time is not exact. You need to watch.
After a few thin, almost transparent layers it becomes a little bit boring. Then usually your enthusiasm drops and with each new pancake you add a little more dough than previous. Your mind starts to play games: Well, I am not a professional cook. I can afford some fat pancakes here or there, no one will notice anyway. My inmates are not that picky anyway.
They know me.
Then, hungry inmates ask is everything prepared and you offer them your perfect ones. Then they compliment your skills. You feel good.
Now you get hungry and all what's left is a few fat ones. They're gold and crispy from the outside, but not really baked in the middle. Especially the last one. Well, you're hungry, you're the cook. Put an extra honey over it and eat what you've baked. Or almost baked.
The truth is, you never know where this fattest one will end up. In a professional world, this mistake could cost you. Even if some work is simple as baking a pancake, it requires focus. You lose it and you face the consequence.
Here is how I've found the fat pancake rule.
My task was to introduce a new hired manager in a small city bank's branch. The idea was simple. Create an event that will allow him to be seen in his new role. Knowing that recently, local school manager mentioned how he has a problem with his students. They complained that math lessons are not useful in a real life and learning math is " a waste of time".
I figured that a small math contest will shake them a little, and offered my assistance. My idea was to give teachers a month time to prepare students for the contest, think of some test questions and for the best students and their teachers (three of them in each grade) brand new tablets as a reward. Those gifts will be presented at a small ceremony in the school premises with teachers, students and their parents at the site. The school manager gets his students motivated, students get their rewards and my branch manager gets his introduction. A triple win, it seemed.
Until this point, everything i have done was baking some perfect pancakes. Then i lost my focus.
Preparations for the event started as planned and I was pleased how this developed so far. At one point, school manager asked me by the way is it OK to allow some other bank to participate with symbolic gift.
-How symbolic we are talking about? - I asked.
Well, less that fifty euros, he replied.
It made me smile. Preparing the event cost me much more and with their symbolic gift, they will look cheep in front of all the audience.
So i agreed.
And it appeared that was my fattest pancake.
The day of the ceremony was nice, all the participants were present, a lot of parents, teachers and even some local media. I arrived, set in the middle row and in all that crowd saw my branch manager without a single drop of blood in his face. I approached and asked what happened. Then he showed me a table with rewards.
A complete shock!
Remember this fifty euros, symbolic reward? Those were white paper bags with nothing but the other bank's logo on. Needles to say it looked like bad and completely different than my idea was.
That was the point I actually ate the fattest one. Unforgettable feeling.
Enough about professional side. Today when I make pancakes I know that I will spend some time on it. My first one look the same as the last. My inmates say I am perfectionist, but I don't find it true. it's just a small reminder - either do it right or don't do it at all.