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Do you have a fast-food or a fine-dining mindset?

Updated: Mar 6, 2020

When we’re starting a new year and thinking about what we’d like to achieve, it’s easy to fall into a trap of having an ambition that doesn’t match our change appetite. 

As leaders, we look around our businesses and see so much opportunity for change. It’s easy to become impatient and want everything to change now while in parallel, wanting the change to be sustainable and deliver the outcome we need. This kind of thinking can place the outcome of the change at risk.

It’s a bit like going to a fast-food place and expecting a fine-dining experience. You’re always going to end up disappointed.

Fast-food is delivered and eaten within a very short space of time. It’s often designed to excite your taste-buds and address current feelings of hunger in the short-term, generally at the expense of longer-term nutrition. 

When addressing challenges in their business, leaders who have a fast-food mindset are more likely to implement a new computer system, thinking that it alone, will fix their customer service issues. Similarly, this kind of mindset can have leaders booking in a half-day leadership program, expecting it to increase accountability and transform performance.

The fast-food approach to problem-solving can be effective in some situations. For instance, when you have smallish, independent problems occurring in a fairly static environment. However, if the problem is complex and big or the environment is dynamic, then a fast-food approach leads to disappointment and potential disaster. 

In this situation, what’s needed is more of a fine-dining approach. Just like a gourmet meal, before any action starts in the kitchen, time is taken to think through the best approach for the given situation in line with the outcome that’s needed. It’s something that takes a while to produce but is high-quality and lasts for a long time.

As you look towards the months ahead, it may be useful to consider the following questions.

  • What kind of problems are we solving?

  • Do we need a fast-food or fine-dining mindset?

  • What mindset have we been adopting so far?

  • Is it serving us well?Does our approach need to change? 

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About the author:

Kate Christiansen is an expert in Problem-Led Leadership and an award-winning author, facilitator and speaker. She helps leaders and teams to escape the status quo and build momentum behind big, hairy problems that matter. To discover more about Kate and what her clients say about her impact on their teams, visit or contact Kate on


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