Go into any well-run business and look behind the scenes. You will find procedures and routines that MUST be followed or heads roll. From the small things like making sure that the last one out turns off the lights to putting the shop keys in the office, on the same hook each time, so that they can always be found. There are also more significant routines too, like making sure that every item is checked off the manifest when a delivery arrives instead of just taking the van driver’s word that it’s all there.
Some might argue that these routines are mundane repetitions that take the fun and spontaneity out of life and make work “boring” … but others rigorously defend them saying that they help the business, or the individual to function at their best. Take the chef who needs to have all the pan handles facing the same way, with the pans of varying sizes in a particular order so that without thinking he will reach up, select what he wants and then slam it down on the counter in just the right position for him to add whatever ingredient he needs before moving it onto the stove burner and the dish can be cooked. No mess, no fuss, job done. Now imagine some free spirit in the kitchen deciding to make chef’s life more “fun” by storing the pans in an assortment of sizes with some handles facing the wall, some handles facing the range and others upside down. They are likely to find themselves with a “fun” bump on the head from where chef has chucked the 9 inch pan at them when he wanted the 14 inch one but it wasn’t where it should have been.
So the routines that Jon Rutter and his team of professionals employ are designed to make their client’s businesses work at maximum efficiency – there is a specific sequence that they need to follow to achieve the end result, making their clients the best they can be. Some might scoff and suggest that one or other process is a bit OTT, but “over the top” routines work for champions. They help to keep them focussed on the task at hand and on track to achieving their goal. Another champion that uses routine has been criticised recently – Rafael Nadal. His penchant for lining up his drink bottles with labels facing the right way and the sequence he uses as he touches himself in various places before serving has irritated many watchers. It has even been suggested that he has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Well, if he does, so do hundreds of other successful athletes, among them Sharapova and Andy Murray. Which begs the question, are children learning tennis taught to bounce the ball a few times before serving? Why do players do it?
Rafa probably does have fun in his life when he’s not working at tennis. As does Maria and Andy. But for them to achieve the right result in their trade, they need the focus that their routine provides. No restaurant, club or pub is any different – as any stocktaker will tell you, the “same-old, same-old” boring stuff needs to be done to keep the business moving forward to make them champions in their own field.
Perhaps we’ll see Chef juggling pans for fun on Britain’s Got Talent, but not in his kitchen!