The Cookie and the Oven


It seems like the world of business is more fascinated with cookies than the oven that bakes the cookies. And it’s costing us.
They eat the cookie, they like it, and then they want more of it. Soon, this cookie is the only cookie they want for the rest of their lives. So they go to the bakery every day, to stand in line with all the others who want the same cookies.
I am much more interested in the oven that produces this fantastic cookie. Because if I deeply understand how this oven works, I can bake an unlimited amount of my own cookies and even play with the recipe a bit to make it even better.
In business, people only seem to be interested in cookies:
  • We see a guy like Elon Musk, and we want to know what his “secrets” are. How does get up in the morning, what are his rituals, what does he eat? What are his “secrets”?
  • There are a 100 books on how Steve Jobs led Apple to market domination. They describe his harsh leadership style, the clothes he wore all the time (the turtleneck, the jeans, and the new balance sneakers), the relationship he had with his daughter, etc.
  • We see a company like Amazon, and we want to know what they know that we don’t.
  • Closer to home we see a colleague who is very productive, and we want to know how he “does it”.
  • We see a sales agent who has a great way of communicating with customers, and we want to know what his “techniques” are.
  • We notice a certain leader is loved by everybody and we want to know what his “best practices” are.
We want techniques, strategies, step by step plans, mindsets, best practices and formulas to get us the results.
And so we take the short-term gain over the long-term win. We copy what works now for incremental results, instead of learning what’s operating behind the screens for sustainable success. We choose to copy and steal ideas instead of coming up with our own.
I’d rather understand the oven that produces the cookies than stand in line at the bakery every day.
But the fact of the matter is that most people are too busy to even realise there’s an oven. But when they discover the oven and then profoundly understand how the oven works and operates, a whole new world opens.