Creative Advice from World-Famous Chef Ferran Adrià

January 10, 2012

By: Courtney
In a remote spot in northwest Spain, El Bulli Restaurant sits shuttered. The Michelin three-star dream of chef Ferran Adrià was once open year round, then just for six-month stretches, and then finally closed for good last summer. Why would a hot spot that had 2 million requests for its 8,000 dining slots per year shut its doors? Adrià says the answer is all about innovation, and his approach poses an interesting question for startups and forward-thinking businesses.
Adrià recently told an audience that he's shifting El Bulli from a restaurant into a culinary think tank. What he's after, he says, is the next omelet.
In the history of food, there are few omelets – completely new creations, not iterations on previous discoveries. Creating a new “first” in cooking – a conceptual omelet – requires time for creative thinking, for failure without punishment. So Adrià has decided production (his restaurant) should be secondary to creation (his think tank).
Can this translate to a business that is unable to shutter its doors to gain more creative time? Yes. You can build space for creative thinking into your daily business practices by:

  • Failing faster: Have a great idea? Put it into action quickly, and then move on to the next idea if the first proves poor.
  • Flattening bureaucracy: Multiple approval layers squelch creativity.
  • Recognizing creativity: Celebrate individual successes, and let your team know you support new approaches to old challenges.
  • Encouraging daydreaming and playing games.

For those of us without endless time for cooking up conceptual omelets, carving out that space during every workday is a must. It can be done, and the most successful startups are those that make it happen.

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