Becoming a MasterChef of Change

On a shelf in my kitchen at home, I have a number of recipe books. I often take them off the shelf and browse through them, looking for gastronomic inspiration. Having the recipe books on my shelf and available to me at any time, knowing the basics of cooking and having many of the necessary ingredients in my pantry, it is likely that whatever I select to cook from those recipe books will end up as being moderately palatable and edible. I’m a reasonable cook, but I’m no MasterChef. With my level of skill, can I really rely on every dish turning out as I intended? Looking exactly as it does in the images? With the same flavour and intensity as I might get at my local restaurant? Of course not!

This reliability is further tested when I decide then try to cook up a storm only to either find the recipe calls for a certain ingredient which is now out of season or I’m catering for 11 and the recipe serves four.

Everything that goes into creating a masterpiece, the necessary skills and experience to substitute an ingredient and know confidently that the outcome will be the same, adjusting each of the ingredients from the recipe from four to 11 to achieve the same flavour and consistency is what a chef can do. They have the experience and confidence to be able to adjust recipes, depending on the circumstances, and still end up with a beautifully presented and tasty dish.

How does my culinary experience and skills equate to change management, I hear you ask? Great question!

I recently came across a post on LinkedIn where the person had just completed a change management certification program and was proudly announcing that they were now a Change Manager. I genuinely congratulate them for successfully completing the certification, but does that actually make them a Change Manager? Just because you have the recipe doesn’t make you a great chef.

When I was facilitating on change management certification programs, I used to tell the participants that the program certified them in the methodology and tools but was just one part of becoming effective at the true ‘craft’ of change management. Certification and a methodology alone – as useful as they are (and continue to be to me) – doesn’t make someone a Change Manager.

And yet, our experience at FOLD7 is that many organisations seem to think that if they send someone on a certification course, they will suddenly have an expert who can whip up an effective change management strategy and implement a successful change all on the basis that they have now have a change recipe book (and three intense days of theory and practice). And all this when they don’t even have the right ingredients made available to them for the change. This isn’t fair for the organisation or for the individual who has suddenly been elevated to the role of the SME for change.

Tonight is the final of the 10th series of MasterChef Australia. As I watch it, I sit in awe of what some of the contestants can produce with limited time and ingredients. This is not luck – this is the result of the dedication and time they have spent on developing their skills, knowledge and expertise. As change practitioners, we have to invest the same amount of time and effort as these home cooks, be willing to learn from our mistakes, pick ourselves up from failures and keep believing in what we are doing and why, if we are going to become MasterChefs of change.

As Julia Child put it: “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.”


We’re working on different ideas, telling a different story, and getting radically different outcomes than what others usually see.