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 end off one side of the meatloaf before putting it in the oven. One day, the teen asks, “mom, why do we cut 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 made meatloaf. Together, the two called up Grandma to find the answer. After a brief laugh, the grandmother admitted she didn’t know the answer either; she’d learned the technique from her mother. Their curiosity sparked, the three went to visit Great-grandma in the nursing home where she lived. Upon hearing the question, the ninety eight year old great grandmother roared with laughter. “I have no idea why you are cutting the end off the meatloaf! I used to do it because I didn’t have a big enough pan!”
We use the meatloaf metaphor to define an out of date tradition – a system, process, or belief that may have made sense in the past but is no longer relevant. Unfortunately most companies are filled with meatloaves. Use this story to help remind you to question the status quo and to shed light on long standing traditions that have no real function or benefit. By awakening your curiosity, you’ll be amazed at what you may discover.