Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Stick to your knitting

A regular reader asked what lessons could be learnt from the excellent Cafe Fish in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. It’s a good question, because not everyone can be an excellent cook, but many of us want to run excellent businesses.

I think the answer he was thinking of was more imaginative than mine. As a long standing fan of Tom Peters and Robert Waterman’s “In Search of Excellence” my take would be slightly different. I think there is less creativity in getting it right – and more logic. Although many believe Peters and Waterman to be a little too long in the tooth for today’s strategists, I think one of their key messages is still as relevant as ever:

“Stick to your knitting.”
Cafe Fish was not started by two advertising executives or trainee call centre assistants; it was created by two sisters who had spent their lives in the catering business. They had grown up on the banks of Loch Fyne, famed for the excellence of its fish. In other words, before they signed the lease on the restaurant, they had a pretty good training in how to be excellent in their field. In other words, they played to their strengths.

Unfortunately they haven’t read Sunday’s Getting to Excellent blog post and called with the offer of dinner on the house, so I haven’t been back to sample their dishes again. But I have no reason to believe their tables were not as packed as they were on Sunday evening. So in this instance at least, I think that Sticking to their Knitting worked a treat.

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