Under Pressure

It’s Foodie Friday so this morning I’m inspired by a lyric from Bowie and Queen:  “Pressure pushing down on me, Pressing down on you.”  I heard the song and wondered how many of you have ever cooked using a pressure cooker?  There was a good piece on them in Slate a week ago that you might want to check out.

English: Pressure cooker

Image via Wikipedia

Modern pressure cookers are easy and safe to use but older ones were frequently the subject of comedy.  Well, not the cookers themselves but their propensity to blow up.  We business folks can learn a lot from them and that’s my point today.

A pressure cooker is a sealed pot in which the pressure builds up and water boils at a higher temperature.  One uses less liquid to cook and foods are more flavorful.  As the Slate piece said:

As steam builds in a sealed vessel, the boiling point of the water within increases from 212 to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. That allows the contents to repose as if in a sauna, while their aromas are squeezed out of them in a hot bear hug

But there are some points that I think relate to business.  We often talk of pressure as being problematic in business, and as with an improperly sealed pressure cooker, a business team that doesn’t work together cohesively can be blown apart by pressure.  On the other hand, just as foods cook much faster with pressure cooking, a team under pressure can often get a great deal done in a lot less time.  Just as a pressure cooker can also be used as an effective sterilizer, the added pressure applied to a team can kill the “germs”, the people who do more harm than good to a business.  As I’m sure you’ve seen, people under pressure display their true natures.

Pressure cookers use less liquid and because of that the food retains the key vitamins and minerals better than when they’re cooked in a lot of liquid. The shorter cooking time helps with that as well.  A team under pressure can become more focused and side issues tend to be pushed away – the key focus of the project gets retained.

If you’ve never worked with a pressure cooker, give it a try.  I’m sure you’ve worked in one – hopefully it didn’t blow up and you ended up with a great end product and a stronger team.

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