The Confit Solution

For our Foodie Friday Fun this week, let’s examine  confit and what it tells us about business.

Duck confit with salad

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m thinking specifically of duck confit, one of my favorite foods, but the process is often used with fruit or vegetables such as onion or garlic.  For those of you who’ve never experienced it, duck confit is made by salting the duck, generally legs, and letting it cure with some herbs for a day or so.  The salt is removed and then the legs are poached in their own fat at a low heat.  In a way, it’s a fancy version of barbecue  where meat is spiced, left to cure a bit, and then slowly smoked to add flavor and render the fat.  The result is a rich-tasting product that can be heated (particularly to crisp the skin) and eaten as is or shredded to use in other dishes.

Interesting, you say, but what does this have to do with business?  The beauty of confit to me is that the key to the dish isn’t fancy external additions but, rather, the technique.  The main ingredients – the meat and the fat – are right there when you begin (OK, you might need some additional duck fat to cover the legs when cooking but stay with me here).  That lesson is often lost on us in business.

It’s hard for someone who makes a living parachuting in to help companies to say this, but more often than not the keys to success are already in place.  What happens is that managers tend to make things too complicated by searching for external resources or solutions when the ingredients they need are already on hand.  Confiting something is nothing more than a deep, gentle immersion in something that’s already there – fat for meats, sugar for fruit.  Instead of cutting off the fat and discarding it since it’s often seen as a problem, it becomes the key to the dish.  How much better off would many businesses be if they allowed all of their resources to shine instead of writing them off as “just” an accountant or secretary or junior analyst?

There’s a Shakespeare quote of which I’ve always been fond – “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves…”  That’s confit, and good business advice in a nutshell.  What’s your take?

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