Decontruction (Issue 686)

In which we are reminded to break our clients complex problems down into components and address the components rather than offering ‘one size fits all’ recommendations that miss underlying issues.

The dish, as served, was a delight to the eye and the menu description set my palette pattering: Roasted Eggplant Agrodolce… golden raisins, pine nuts, mozzarella, saffron tomatoes, chickpea arancini.  The word, “agrodolce,” just rolled off the tongue …. not to be outdone by the sound and smells of  the “aran-chee-nee,”  fried chickpea balls coated with bread crumbs, filled with I wasn’t sure what.

And none of it was on my iPhone nutrition app. Well… there were multiple options for arancini,  but none of them CLOSE to little beauties that sat before me, and  no options for the agrodolce.

No surprise to you, faithful readers, I am HIGHLY disciplined about recording my gustatory adventures. Every meal, every snack, goes into the app.  For fun, I typed in the words, roasted eggplant agrodolce… the app sneered at me.

This is a frustrating challenge to those of us who track food intake. Type in “roasted breast chicken no skin,” immediately, multiple options. Type in anything complicated from a restaurant of any measure, no options.

So, we  must deconstruct the complicated dishes, estimating and approximating ingredients and quantities or (risking the horrification and embarrassment of our families and friends) ASKING our servers to please ASK the kitchen for the information.

I’ve learned not to do this publicly.  Sneer does not begin to describe….

So, the key things are the curiosity, patience, and persistence to break complex dishes into simple components and to assess the components rather than trying to guess at the dish as a whole.

This, too, in sales is important.  Our clients’ easy problems are like skinless grilled chicken breasts for my food app. The app pops out the nutrition answers immediately.

Our clients’ complex problems – “I keep running out of cash” – are like the eggplant agrodolce – many nuances and influences.

In order to understand such complex problems,  we must deconstruct them into components and address the components, first, individually, and then as a system, rather than jumping to quick answers and conclusions that miss the underlying subtleties.

2 Responses to Decontruction (Issue 686)

  1. Cliff Robbins says:


    You’ve outdone yourself. I’ve enjoyed your letter for years, and you’ve had some good (to great) ones. And this one ranks up there with your best! Thanks for sharing it, and also for making me feel badly about my own diet regime. 🙁

  2. Nick Miller says:

    Cliff, thank you for your note! I am delighted you enjoyed the column so much! It’s funny how food focuses the concept. And performance management tools like Apps help us persevere.

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