他在過去多年來曾在紐約最頂級的餐廳工作，也曾在日本的許多麵店擔任學徒，每天在自己經營的小餐廳Momofuku Noodle Bar工作十八個小時。 當時張先生連自己的薪水都快付不出來，留不住員工，他每天都非常焦慮。 他還想起生活跌到谷底時，他和餐廳的員工有一天晚上休假，去了一家和他的店完全不同的漢堡店吃飯，裡面高朋滿座、極受歡迎，又很賺錢。他心裡想，他的廚藝比他們好多了，那麼為什麼他的餐廳不賺錢？「我就是想不出我們在哪裡出錯了。」他跟我們說。
或許張先生可以怪罪其他人，或許可以更努力（不過種種資料顯示，他沒有辦法再付出更多的努力了），或者他可以在菜單上做小幅度的調整。但是他選擇從內心反省，嚴厲地評估自己的作為。 他夢想中的簡陋麵店在財務上是否可行？ 話說傳統的麵食聽起來很浪漫，但是如果他希望能夠給付自己的生活費用，這樣的餐廳似乎無法成為可行的做法。
張先生調整了自己的做法。他沒有坐在那裡思考菜單上應該擺哪些菜餚，他和廚師跑到蔬果市場，從生鮮蔬果尋找新的靈感，然後他們回去廚房，抱著背水一戰的決心開始煮料理，烹調出一些自己想吃的瘋狂菜餚 – 內臟、甜麵包、各種乳酪、還有類似韓式料理的蔬菜捲。張先生形容之後的發展簡直「有點不可思議」，人潮開始湧入，好評不斷，又得獎，過去無法想像的機會紛紛上門。
早在1970年代，哈佛商學院管理理論大師阿吉里斯（Chris Argyris，現年89歲的他目前為哈佛的榮譽教授）開始研究組織以及像張先生這樣的人面臨障礙時會有什麼反應。 阿吉里斯教授形容最普遍的反應為單環學習，是一種內在的心智過程，思考出可能導致障礙的內在或技術面向的導因。
比方說網球女名將瑪汀娜‧娜拉提諾娃（Martina Navratilova）就跟我們提到，她在1981年輸給克利斯‧艾芙特（Chris Evert）的時候，她就質疑自己認為光是技巧和直覺就能贏球的信念，她開始仔細觀察球賽的每一個面向，展開嚴苛的交叉訓練（這在現在是很普遍的運動方式，但是在當時卻很少聽說）、修正飲食習慣以及心理、技巧上的策略，最後成為了當時最成功的網球女將。
地下搖滾樂團OK Go也說明，早期樂團是以二十世紀搖滾樂團的經營模式來操作，但是當音樂界的唱片業務急速下滑，他們發現自己的創作方向被唱片公司嚴重操控，也對唱片公司的經營模式提出質疑。他們選擇不倚賴唱片公司，開始製作非常異於傳統的音樂影片，並與谷歌、State Farm保險公司、Range Rover汽車等企業合作，透過企業的贊助來延續他們的創作。而今，這個樂團以自己的品牌發行專輯。
作者為Camille Sweeney 與 Josh Gosfield，摘錄於即將出版的新書《The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well》。
Secret Ingredient for Success
In December 2012 Joey Chan facilitated the CP Yen Foundation workshop “Revisiting the Fifth Discipline” where he introduced the concept of double loop learning. The following is a case study of how honest reflection can shift a system from perpetual failure to success.
Mr. Chang is an internationally renowned, award-winning Korean-American chef, restaurateur and owner of the Momofuku restaurant group with eight restaurants from Toronto to Sydney, and other thriving enterprises, including bakeries and bars, a PBS TV show, guest spots on HBO’s “Treme” and a foodie magazine, Lucky Peach. He says he worked himself to the bone to realize his dream — to own a humble noodle bar.
He spent years cooking in some of New York City’s best restaurants, apprenticed in different noodle shops in Japan and then, finally, worked 18-hour days in his tiny restaurant, Momofuku Noodle Bar. Mr. Chang could barely pay himself a salary. He had trouble keeping staff. And he was miserably stressed. He recalls a low moment when he went with his staff on a night off to eat burgers at a restaurant that was everything his wasn’t — packed, critically acclaimed and financially successful. He could cook better than they did, he thought, so why was his restaurant failing? “I couldn’t figure out what the hell we were doing wrong,” he told us.
Mr. Chang could have blamed someone else for his troubles, or worked harder (though available evidence suggests that might not have been possible) or he could have made minor tweaks to the menu. Instead he looked inward and subjected himself to brutal self-assessment. Was the humble noodle bar of his dreams economically viable? Sure, a traditional noodle dish had its charm but wouldn’t work as the mainstay of a restaurant if he hoped to pay his bills.
Mr. Chang changed course. Rather than worry about what a noodle bar should serve, he and his cooks stalked the produce at the greenmarket for inspiration. Then they went back to the kitchen and cooked as if it was their last meal, crowding the menu with wild combinations of dishes they’d want to eat — tripe and sweetbreads, headcheese and flavor-packed culinary mashups like a Korean-style burrito. What happened next Mr. Chang still considers “kind of ridiculous” — the crowds came, rave reviews piled up, awards followed and unimaginable opportunities presented themselves.
During the 1970s, Chris Argyris, a business theorist at Harvard Business School (and now, at 89, a professor emeritus) began to research what happens to organizations and people, like Mr. Chang, when they find obstacles in their paths. Professor Argyris called the most common response single loop learning — an insular mental process in which we consider possible external or technical reasons for obstacles.
LESS common but vastly more effective is the cognitive approach that Professor Argyris called double-loop learning. In this mode we — like Mr. Chang — question every aspect of our approach, including our methodology, biases and deeply held assumptions. This more psychologically nuanced self-examination requires that we honestly challenge our beliefs and summon the courage to act on that information, which may lead to fresh ways of thinking about our lives and our goals.
In interviews we did with high achievers for a book, we expected to hear that talent, persistence, dedication and luck played crucial roles in their success. Surprisingly, however, self-awareness played an equally strong role.
The successful people we spoke with — in business, entertainment, sports and the arts — all had similar responses when faced with obstacles: they subjected themselves to fairly merciless self-examination that prompted reinvention of their goals and the methods by which they endeavored to achieve them.
The tennis champion Martina Navratilova, for example, told us that after a galling loss to Chris Evert in 1981, she questioned her assumption that she could get by on talent and instinct alone. She began a long exploration of every aspect of her game. She adopted a rigorous cross-training practice (common today but essentially unheard of at the time), revamped her diet and her mental and tactical game and ultimately transformed herself into the most successful women’s tennis player of her era.
The indie rock band OK Go described how it once operated under the business model of the 20th-century rock band. But when industry record sales collapsed and the band members found themselves creatively hamstrung by their recording company, they questioned their tactics. Rather than depend on their label, they made wildly unconventional music videos, which went viral, and collaborative art projects with companies like Google, State Farm and Range Rover, which financed future creative endeavors. The band now releases albums on its own label.
No one’s idea of a good time is to take a brutal assessment of their animating assumptions and to acknowledge that those may have contributed to their failure. It’s easy to find pat ways to explain why the world has not adequately rewarded our efforts. But what we learned from conversation with high achievers is that challenging our assumptions, objectives, at times even our goals, may sometimes push us further than we thought possible. Ask David Chang, who never imagined that sweetbreads and duck sausage rice cakes with kohlrabi and mint would find their way beside his humble noodle dishes — and make him a star.
By Camille Sweeney and Josh Gosfield, authors of the forthcoming book “The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well.” Published in the International Herald Tribune: http://nyti.ms/VPsPyq