Cooks and Trees

Too many cooks in the kitchen. I hear that phrase a lot. Companies or groups with many people putting their hands on it, diluting it, confusing it, and sending it off course run the risk of destroying or burying beautiful things. Understandably, too many people pissing on the same tree does not help the tree grow. Be wary of committee projects, even democratic projects. Too many people with too many opinions can result in too many compromises. And if I’ve learned anything, compromised products are seldom successful.

That said, be careful blaming the opinions or the people involved. It’s not necessarily the cooks’ faults for having opinions; it may very well be the kitchen’s fault for having room enough for too many cooks. If you open the door to that level of collaboration, it must be organized. Fortunately, there are such things as hyper-collaborative companies and organized brain trusts (Pixar is my favorite). With strategy and structure, an over-staffed kitchen could be a very great thing. Do not blame the people; blame structure.