Baking, business challenge & balance

When things start getting ‘hot in the tent’ (business challenge) sometimes you simply have to stop, take a breath and regroup (balance).
Over the past few seasons I have become a big fan of a UK reality TV show called ‘The Great British Bake Off’. If you have a look on Wikipedia you will be informed that;
“The Great British Bake Off (often referred to as Bake Off or GBBO) is a British television baking competition in which a group of amateur bakers compete against each other in a series of rounds, attempting to impress a group of judges with their baking skills, with a contestant being eliminated in each round, with the winner being selected from the remaining contestants that make it to the finals.”


Like most of these shows we start with a group of bright eyed and bushy tailed contestants. Each week they face three challenges, these are;

  1.     The Signature Business challenge – a tried and tested recipe that they should have in their kit bag of skills.
  2.     The Technical Business challenge – something that they may not be so familiar with along with a minimal set of instructions
  3.     The Showstopper Business challenge – a longer duration challenge in which they get to demonstrate their skills and talents.

I think the reason that I relate to this so well is that I see this as a microcosm of modern day business!
It’s fascinating to see how different people respond to different pressures. Given enough time and working in a ‘normal environment’ most of us can get through the day to day challenges. However, when time becomes compressed and our environment changes then cracks can start to appear.

The Tent

This brings me to the tent. All baking activities are undertaken in a large tent under very tight time constraints. Whilst you may be thinking what difference will doing it in a tent make? It is this twist that adds the extra spice.

When you are in your own kitchen or environment you know where everything is and there is a level of control. When your new environment is a bench top in a tent with different equipment and different ovens then you face a number of new challenges. -It’s important to remember the contestants have already been through a lengthy selection process! So whilst these are amateur bakers they do know their stuff.-
Some of you who may not be familiar with the UK summer weather may not know that it can be somewhat variable.. To the point of even getting hot 😉
When you are trying to mix, cook, assemble and decorate the nominated baking challenge this can play havoc with ‘normal’ preparation and cooking times. Things that you may have done many times before suddenly no longer come together.
As the weeks progress we slowly see the group whittled down one at a time to leave the final three. All three have now earnt their right to be there and undoubtedly have encountered a number of disasters along the way. It’s this aspect of analysing, adapting and delivering that I hope we can all learn something from.

With the average failure rate of most start up organisations being close to 80% the three steps to analyse, adapt and deliver can mean the difference between survival and extinction.

In all of these shows there is always an emphasis on the one winner. But GBBO is slightly different; along the way the emotional and physical support between the contestants develops. The last series, I think, exemplifies this even more. We all need good support structures around us. Allowing for times when things do get hot in the tent, you have the head space to stop, breath and regroup.
If I look at my own careers in Architecture, IT, Mechanical Engineering and Biotechnology, it has been a bit of a roller coaster over the past thirty odd years. It is these past experiences that bring real practical skills I try to share with others when I have an opportunity.
Always remember to keep the faith. Have fun and explore opportunities to the max. Do not be so blinkered that you don’t listen to friendly voices who are trying to help you along the way.

About the Author Brian Higson:

With a passion to design and build solutions Brian started his career as an Architect. It was through this journey that he discovered computer aided design (CAD). His Architectural thesis on interfacing CAD models to analysis applications forged his career. For two decades he worked in the Automotive, Aerospace and Defence industries. Brian was modelling, analysing and manufacturing products across the globe.
Brian was responsible for the establishment of a joint venture manufacturing technology centre based in Adelaide. This centre pioneered solutions for rapid prototyping, immersive technologies and simulation. Wanting a change of scene Brian became a founder of a biotechnology company using naturally occurring microbes. These microbes were used to degrade organic waste and stimulate better plant growth used in bioremediation projects around the world. Now as a co-founder of Realising-Potential he has co-authored the book “Connecting the Dots”. Brian has also developed the realising success framework. Which empowers organisations to drive and deliver change. Connect with him on LinkedIn.