Changing the Recipe

Author: Linda J. Popky

At the beginning of the year, I learned the persistent dry cough I’d had since fall was a mild form of asthma brought on by eating certain foods. The biggest culprits: wheat, dairy, and eggs.

I eliminated foods with these ingredients from my diet and started to feel better. It was a challenge to eat in restaurants, because I was avoiding bread, pasta, cheese, anything deep fried, with mayonnaise or breaded, and, of course, just about all baked goods.

Someone asked me when I’d be able to eat normally again, and it seemed the answer was never. Even one bite of an offending food was enough to set off a reaction, which means these foods were all off-limits indefinitely. The way I’d eaten my whole life no longer worked.

It’s as if the world was turned upside down and the old paradigms were broken.

Which, in a sense, is what’s happened to many businesses during this economic slowdown. The old ways to generate business don’t seem to be working. Assumptions on how people make purchase decisions, choose brands, and even decide whether or not to purchase products and services have all changed. The trouble is we’re so used to looking at things the way they’ve always been that we don’t see the different paths that may be more effective in today’s situation.

Those who are waiting for the old way of life to return are likely to find themselves quite hungry for some time. They’re hunkering down and waiting for things to come back to “normal,” to the way things used to be. There’s no question that we will achieve a semblance of business normality very soon, but it’s highly unlikely to be what we were used to before. The world has changed – the strategies and approaches, tactics and approaches we used before are unlikely to be as effective in today’s environment.

Maybe it’s time to change the recipe. Time to replace outdated assumptions and processes with ones that reflect the new reality. Time to find substitutes and alternatives to grow your business: new markets to targets, different ways to provide value to customers, innovative ways to be competitive.

The best of breed organizations who will not just survive but thrive in this environment are those who embrace the new opportunities available to them – even if they taste a little different than what they’ve been used to.

I decided there had to be another way to eat – different recipes for the same basic foods. And, in fact, it’s amazing how many alternatives there are when you start looking for them: Soy milk and cheese, bread made from brown rice, salad dressings that are egg and mayonnaise-free. They don’t taste exactly the same, but often they’re pretty good substitutes.

Six months into my new diet, I’ve adjusted. I have a long list of things I can eat, I’ve lost weight, and I’m actually much healthier than I was before.

For my birthday this month I got the one thing I’ve been craving – a mocha chocolate cake – courtesy of a baker courageous and ingenious enough to create a cake made without either wheat or eggs. The consensus was that it actually tasted pretty good. Yes, it was different than most other cakes, but that’s to be expected. After all, we changed the recipe to fit the situation.

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