Tips for making good coffee (and building better teams)

2703412787_6446b4fba6_mThere are many ways to make coffee.   You’ve got your pre-ground coffee. You’re pre-packaged coffee. Whole Bean coffee.  Self-roasted coffee.  Instant coffee.

And as many types of coffee, there are just as many ways to make coffee.  Drip. French Press. Instant. Percolator. Etc etc.

For the purposes of this post, let’s look at three ways of making coffee:

  1. Buy a can of Folgers, dump the coffee into a drip coffee maker. Brew. Drink.
  2. Buy a pre-packaged coffee (Keurig, etc) . Stick a ‘pod/cup’ into the maker…make coffee.
  3. Buy whole bean coffee, grind it yourself every morning before brewing. Put it in a French Press. Boil Water to 199 degrees exactly.  Slowly pour heated water over grounds. Stir slowly. Let simmer for a few minutes.  Press the grounds out. Pour coffee. Drink. Enjoy a great cup of Joe.

Now…I’m not going to say which method is best…but a good cup of coffee made via French Press is hard to beat. If you like good coffee…try Method #3. If you want the cheapest coffee method, go for #1…it’s drinkable but not memorable.  Method #2 provides a decent cup of coffee and is relatively cheap and easy, but not always memorable.

Of course, there are other approaches to making coffee….but going into them will just confuse all of us…because this isn’t really about making coffee…its about building and leading a team of people.

In my experience, the majority of folks in the world of business take an approach to team building and leadership similar to Method #1 above. They take the ‘prepackaged’ approach by looking for the most cost effective approach to every problem while ignoring (or minimizing) quality. These folks build average teams and deliver average services / products to their clients. There are some leaders out there that are able to take approach #1 to build a quality team that builds / delivers quality products and services, but on average, most leaders taking this approach build teams that aren’t memorable.

There are other leaders who take the pre-packaged approach in method 2. They hire consultants as a ‘team’ to come in and build something. When that team is done…they move on. Then…another team has to be brought in to build something.   Rinse. Repeat.    Team A comes in, does X and leaves. Team B comes in, does Y and leaves.  Just like discarding the pre-packaged coffee pod after one use, these teams can be discarded upon completion. Knowledge transfer occurs at times..but other times it doesn’t.  Most times, these teams do good work…but something is lost over time. With this approach, the leader is able to keep an eye on costs and quality but over time they start to lose the ability to really understand what has been done and how its been done.

Then…there are the leaders that build  a team following an approach similar to method #3.  They find the best people they can find. They pay for those people. They take the time to prepare those people for their jobs and give them plenty of support. They monitor their teams to ensure things are moving along properly and do whatever they can do to help each employee reach their fullest potential. They provide feedback and motivation for these teams and watch as they build great products and services. These teams are the memorable teams that build memorable products and services.

There are times when each approach is valid of course. Sometimes you don’t know the ‘best’…sometimes you just need someone to make sure the lights are kept on…but if you are trying to build a team for the long haul – and one that you can use to beat your competition – you’d better be looking at an approach similar to the French Press approach.

To make a good cup of coffee, you need to focus on quality and preparatione.  To build a good team…focus on the same things. You’ll make a memorable cup of coffee – and a build a great team.

Image Credit: French Press Coffee I on flickr