Monday, May 12, 2014

Chopped Challenge

“You have 20 minutes in this round and the round begins now.  You may open your baskets.”  This was not Ted Allen saying these words to kick off a round on Food TV’s popular show “Chopped,” but Wayne Zeiler playing MC at a cookless, bakeless event.  A similar idea was used where four teams that had to create three different courses from a mystery basket, then placed them in front of a panel of judges and were scored on their foods taste, presentation and creativity.  In this event, no one gets “chopped.”  We had four teams compete – two families, 3 teens (including my Rebecca), a father and daughter, and a pair of mature couples.  As soon as the first round started, we all watched in anticipation of what the output would produce.

For me, the interesting thing was to see how these teams would develop and how everyone would be able to work together, as there were four groups and each were showing a different approach to the event.  I watched our mature group with the two couples.  Each person instantly took up a role.  One person was responsible for opening the cans, one for chopping the item, one for combining and one for plating.  They looked as if they had done this before.  I wondered who would take command of the team with the two families, and to my surprise, it was neither of the mothers.  The oldest child on the team (a high school senior) had in his mind what was going to be produced and made sure everyone on his team had a task.  I was impressed that he even found something for the least skilled to do each round.  The father-daughter team had a brain storming session before for they took any action, batting around ideas in loud voices at each other.  Once the decision was made, they split up the tasks and off they went.  My daughter’s team, well, they had a different approach. Anyone that had an idea threw it out – if they liked it, they all jumped up and down with excitement and laughed, if not…total silence.  Then the person that made the suggestion started.  Each component was treated the same way, and by far, they seemed to be having the most fun.  By round three, they did gel together as a team.

The key with any team is that there is communication between the team members, a shared vision and a commitment to work together for a shared result.  Too many times, in business, we have to work with team members selected against their will for a project, and because of that end up doing nothing.  Or, we have people that do not want change to occur and do nothing.  Even worse, I have had project teams where one person does not want to change what they are doing and will vocally assault the project and provide a negative impact / influence on the other team members.  I have a cousin that often refers to that behavior as never having learned to play in the sandbox.  Meaning that as kids, they were never taught how to play together and share their toys; instead, it was all about them.  Many people fail to realize that as a group, we can sometimes achieve more than as an individual.

“Time’s up.  Please bring your dish up to the judges table.”  Each round ended the same way and each team had to send one representative up to the judges table to talk about their teams’ dish.  As a competition, yes, one team did win.  However, from a teamwork point of view, each one person on each of the teams pulled together to form four competing entities.  Each team had a vision, communicated between each other and worked together to present four individual plates before the judges.  It was great to watch them all play well together in the sandbox!