I am going to make a bet that you have a preference when it comes to cooking versus baking. If someone asks you to bring something to a potluck dinner and gives you the choice of bringing a main dish, or a baked good, I guarantee it will take you less than five seconds to decide.
Maybe you enjoy reading through a recipe, checking off the ingredients that are ready to go, and perfectly leveling off the flour with the back of a knife. Or maybe you love taste-testing a sauce as it simmers and adding in a little more lemon pepper and basil until it’s perfect.
Now I am also going to make a pretty bold claim and say that I can guess your working style based off what you chose to bring to dinner.
If you prefer baking, I bet you are task oriented and enjoy getting into the details of a project. You probably start off most of your days with a to-do list that’s broken out into very manageable and measurable tasks.
If you prefer cooking, my hunch is you tend to focus on the big picture and the end result. You probably can’t be bothered with making lists of specific steps and tasks that you’ll need to get there. Instead, you focus on where are you now and what do you need to add or change to make a great end product.
Both are extremely valuable mindsets and can bring out very different results when problem solving or working in a team. Being aware of your working style is important for the same reason that people take the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator or the StrengthsFinder assessments. It helps you understand your natural strengths and weaknesses.
It also helps you avoid conflict and frustration within teams. If you and your team members have opposite working styles, it is helpful to understand why they are working a certain way. Sometimes you will be able to easily use both styles, and sometimes you will have to adjust your working style to accommodate each other.
As a consultant, we consistently work with new teams on complicated projects. Understanding how you work in addition to understanding how your team members work, can make or break a project. It’s important to have both cooks and bakers on a team to help a project run smoothly. If you are aware of different working styles and figure out how to strategically use both, it can be one of your biggest advantages as a team and you will be setting your project up for success.
No one is good at everything. That’s the value in having a diverse team. The way you think about a problem is likely very different than how your team member thinks about that same problem.
Next time you start putting together a team, make sure that you have both cooks and bakers on your team. Use the question of cooking versus baking to encourage team members to get to know each other and understand their strengths. This is a great way to make sure that there aren’t too many cooks (or bakers) in the kitchen!