Tonight’s pressure test episode of Masterchef was a perfect example of how to get things done, not just in the kitchen, but in any business or work situation.  And it doesn’t have to be a challenging pressure test.  Any project requires five key components to succeed.

1. Be clear about the big picture – the end product. 

The contestants are all shown the dish to be made.  They can look at it, touch it, smell it taste it, to give them a complete picture of what they are required to prepare.  The same applies to any business goal, any outcome we want to achieve.  We need to use our imagination, to visualise our goal, to see it, taste it, feel it, smell it.  See how it fits together.  Keep it in our heads at all times through the “cooking” process.

2.  Break up the goal, the end product into its component parts.

The contestant have to cook complex dishes with many components and ingredients.  Looking at it as a whole, they often seem overwhelmed, but as they run to their benches and read through their recipes, they become confident and methodically (mostly) work through the recipe for each component.  In business, we can do the same by chunking down our goal into smaller components and keep doing it until we have easily achievable chunks of work.  When you make a detailed plan for each group of tasks, you create your “recipe”.

3.  Research and prepare.

In each episode of Masterchef the judges and mentors stress the importance of the meson plus, or preparation.  It is important to have all your ingredients ready before you start on a task, or start putting together one of your components.  One little mistake, one missing part and you future could be forfeit.  At least in Masterchef.  In business, this might translate into losing clients, losing time, or being beaten to the finish line by a competitor. for each task, this is your meson plus.  Have all you ingredients, components ready before you start on each task.

4.  Check and double check.

In Masterchef, several contestants have been eliminated by missing a vital step or ingredient in their recipes.  Sometimes they get so caught up in keeping up, that they forget to go back and double check. In business this translates to knowing your project plans and key milestones backwards and inside out. Cross off tasks  that you’ve completed and make sure you follow up on those that are still incomplete.

5. Leave yourself enough time to test the final product.

During the presentation of each dish at the pressure test, the contestants are often asked, “Have you tasted it?” and often their response is, “No.”  Sometimes such trust in their own ability pays off, but sometimes it doesn’t.  It’s a big risk to take in business.  Leave yourself enough time to not only put the final product together (plate it up) and make sure it works, but to also test it with some of your colleagues and selected clients.  You may find that the product you had in your mind’s eye needs tweaking before it becomes that beautiful and functional thing that you imagined.

What lessons have you learnt from Masterchef that you can apply to other parts of your life?