Monday, August 1, 2011

Würst of the week - Stippgrütze

This week's Würst is the Stippgrütze.

The Stippgrütze, also known as Wurstebrei, is an eastern Westphalia speciality, often compared with Scotland's Haggis.

Literally meaning "Groat Sausage" in English, the Stippgrütze is primarily made from barley groats cooked in Wurstbrühe (sausage juices), a mixture that is enhanced with offcuts of meat and offal, generally heart, kidney or liver, which are together seasoned with salt and various spices, often allspice and thyme.

Once cooked the sausage mixture is minced and any excess juices poured off. The crumbly remains are then left to cool and congeal with the remaining fat. The Würst's high fat content means that it is easily preserved or frozen. This together with the use of offal in the sausage has meant that the Stippgrütze has often been seen as a poor man's winter food.

The Stippgrütze is generally served as hot slices straight from a frying pan. Sometimes the mixture is stirred, often resulting in a sausage purée, or Wurstebrei.

This Würst's high fat content also makes it an ideal snack before drinking. So don't forget to knock back one of Westphalia's finest, a Dortmunder Export, whilst sampling this unheralded Würst.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting the Change right - Leadership and Innovation

Change is constant. Change is ephemeral. Change is permanent. Change is never-ending.
Regardless of the sector in which you operate. No matter how big your company. Notwithstanding how large or complex your organizational structure. Change can be subtle, it can be violent. Change can be beautiful and embraced, it can be ugly and feared.
Globalization, social media, exponential technological development, morphing markets, emerging new markets, offshoring, and low-cost competitors. These are just a small selection of enablers and accelerators of change.
Many leaders consider their organizations, even themselves, as failing to implement change effectively. Transformational change is one of the biggest challenges facing most businesses whose products, markets and customers are themselves rapidly changing and demanding new and different goods and services.
But some leaders excel at delivering and benefiting from meaningful change. These leaders learn to manage change effectively, so that they get ahead of, and even become the driver of change. One thing they have in common is a view that change is a catalyst of Innovation.
Long gone are day-to-day operations that fall into a static or predictable patterns that are interrupted infrequently by only short spells of minor adjustments. Many employees lament these good old days of predictability and fear larger and ongoing change, but these days the opposite should be the case: periods without change often mean an organization is about to be overtaken by another business that has already recognized and adapted to the changing marketplace.
So, where is your organization heading to in the next few years? Hopefully, you're already trying to balance the mix of a need for quick wins with longer term culture changes and business outcomes. You should be trying to lead your competition in growth and revenue, rather than reacting to their initiatives, developing yourself the next generation of highly new innovative products and services. Or will you simply be manning the tiller and keeping the ship afloat?
Corporations of the future must become well-equipped to adapt and respond to an ever-increasing pace, variety and ubiquity of change. And as leaders, you must embrace change, become expert at understanding and involving change in your business, and constantly encourage innovation across your organizational culture, in the products you deliver and the services you offer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bilge pumps - Why we all need an Archimedes Screw

Ever wondered about the origin of the phrase pump the bilge? Do you know what a bilge pump actually is? And why is pumping the bilge important in the modern business environment?

Well, to understand what a bilge pump is, we should first define bilge.

The term bilge dates back to 1523 and refers to the lowest compartment in a ship where the two sides meet at the bottom. The word bilge is these days generally used to refer to the water that collects in this bottommost compartment. This water collects in the bilge as it drains off the sides of the deck of the ship, or if there are rough seas and/or rain. To only way to get rid of the water, is to pump it out. Hence the origin of the bilge pump.

Bilge water is often dirty and dingy since it is not limited to water, but rather, any sort of fluid(s) that happen to collect at the bottom of the ship. The Bilge water can be extracted by bucket or other hand pumps, but nowadays many boats and ships are equipped with automated, electrical bilge pumps.

The earliest known bilge pump is the Archimedes Screw, a pump purportedly designed by Archimedes in the 3rd century B.C. for the Syracusia, a luxury boat commissioned by King Hieron II. The Syracusia is said to have been the largest boat of classical antiquity that could carry 600 souls. As such a large ship would undoubtedly take on water, Archimedes developed his Screw to pump the bilge water. His machine was a device with a revolving screw-shaped blade inside a cylinder that was turned by hand to remove the water.

The fundamentals of Archimedes' design are still used today, though generally not on boats, but in sewage treatment plants and mining industries for transferring liquids and granulated soils from low-lying areas to higher positions.

However, many boat owners have a somewhat casual attitude to bilge pumps and don’t have them installed, or don't have enough of them installed, because they don’t see the need. This is a mistake that can have dire consequences. Small sail boats are often the worst culprits when it comes to not having a bilge pump installed, as many owners don't see it as an important part of boat safety. Part of being a responsible boater is to know what kind of equipment you should have on board. Even smaller boats should always have at least two bilge pumps (at least one for backup).

It's a sad fact that in today's business environment, many leaders and managers also neglect to invest in a bilge pump and avoid pumping the bilge.

The downbeat economy, challenging revenue targets and the need for transformational change in many businesses all require leaders and managers to focus on forward-looking initiatives and new product development.

But remember that sailing a ship isn't always about raising the boom, setting the right bearing and manning the tiller. It's also about swabbing the decks, mending the sails and pumping the bilge. Neglect at your peril the basics such as customer service, employee health and safety, and internal regulation.

It's in these times of choppy waters and high seas that we should make sure we have got our bilge pump safety net.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Würst of the week - Currywurst

This week's Würst is the Currywurst.

This Würst is one of Germany's less gourmet Wurst offerings but has been selected due to its popularity as a fast-food staple and national food obsession in Germany.

Often sold from fast food trucks and Imbissbuden, this Wurst is generally made from pork, and served cut into slices (easier to eat with a plastic fork) with a generous helping of curry ketchup (normally consisting of standard ketchup or tomato paste with a liberal sprinkling of curry powder).

Also known as the Phosphatstange, this Wurst is most popular in the larger metropolitan areas of Germany, particularly in Berlin, Hamburg and across the Ruhr. Traditionally, every candidate for Berlin mayor is photographed at some point consuming a Currywurst from a fast-food stand.

This Wurst is so popular it has its own museum, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Break free from your moorings - Leading Change

As a leader, how often do you ask yourself the question: do I steer, or simply man the tiller?

Are you making a difference to your organization, empowering your employees and effecting change, navigating your way through choppy waters towards a sun rising over a broad horizon? Or are you simply sailing the ship, keeping it upright and moving forward, avoiding the rocks and any risk of running aground?

When taking over leadership responsibility of a company or organization, the latter course is likely to be your immediate priority.

But before you nail your colours to the mast, what if your new ship desperately needs you to pump the bilge? Do you throw all hands to the pumps and try to weather the storm, or do you change tack on a bearing for change?

Before making any rash decisions you need to take soundings and get the feel of the tiller, but if the organization is suffering in the doldrums, then undertaking some immediate sail-trimming and realigning your ballast is likely in the long-run to be one of the most effective ways of keeping the ship afloat and it's course true.

Breaking free of your moorings and effecting change sends a positive message to your co-workers, energizing them to stop swinging the lead and empowering them to raise the boom.