At my company, ePrize, we often tell the “Meatloaf Story”: A mother is making meatloaf with her teenage daughter; a ritual they’ve been doing together for years. As part of the tradition, the two chefs cut the ends of each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven. One day, the teen asks, “Mom, why do we cut the ends off the meatloaf before we put it in the oven?”
Taken by surprise, the mom began to think. She had no good reason, other than that’s how her own mother did it and that was the way she learned. Together, the two called up grandma. “Grandma, why do we cut the ends off each side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven?” After a brief laugh, the Grandmother admitted that she didn’t know the answer either. It was the way her own mother taught her. Tradition. It turns out her mother was living in a nearby nursing home, so they all went to visit.
Upon hearing the question, the 98-year-old great grandmother roared with laughter. “I have no idea why you are cutting the ends off the meatloaf! I used to do it only because I didn’t have a big enough pan!”
We define a “Meatloaf” as an out-of-date tradition. A system, process, or belief that may have made sense in the past but no longer has relevance. Unfortunately, most companies are filled with Meatloaves. By awakening your curiosity, you will be amazed at how many you discover.
This week, take a hard look around to see what meatloaf you have lying around. Gather a small team of people (no more than could be fed by two pizzas) and list out the Meatloaves in your organization. By identifying these useless, outdated concepts you can then prioritize and attack them one-by-one to drive powerful change.