Lessons from the Bake-off Tent

Business Systems

One of my simple pleasures at this time of year, is the return of the Great British Bake Off. I don’t profess to be any sort of baker (I did once beat the bottom out of the bowl making fairy cakes!) but I do love watching other people have a go. I love Mary Berry too; can you imagine having a friend who always had cake on the go when you called round?

Like many other reality shows though, it must take some planning – making sure they have the right people in the tent – a good mix of contestants with different skills and personalties; making sure they have all of the recipes and instructions prepared for 11 weeks ahead; all of the ingredients, and all of the equipment to hand; everything working as it should, particularly the ovens. And of course, having the four essential ingredients of the show – Mary, Paul, Mel and Sue, booked for the duration.

Yes, It must take some planning.

The contestants have to plan and prepare too. Their first challenge is always to bake something that they have been forewarned about just to ease them in. So you know they’ll have been at home perfecting the process, getting their timing just right – practising over and over again until they could do it with their eyes shut.

They have to know the best order of doing everything – understand their critical path – to make sure that everything comes together perfectly at the end. Preparing the cakes and having them cook and cool while they get on with the fillings would be a good example of this.

Sadly, there were two great examples of failure to plan the critical path in the first episode, which both led to minor culinary disasters.

The sea of muddy mousse washing away a layer cake, because it hadn’t been made and allowed to set in advance.

And the young girl who went to put her cakes in the oven only to find she hadn’t switched it on because ‘we have an aga at home that’s always on’. Having an aga myself this did make me laugh, but I wondered if many would sympathise!

Both demonstrated the importance of planning and having a process to achieve a consistently excellent performance, as measured in this instance, through the KPIs of appearance, taste and texture.

Who would have thought it?  The Great British Bake Off demonstrating the Bright7 Cornerstones of Planning Process People and Performance!

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ps: Always remember – forward planning can prevent a soggy bottom…

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