Tuesday, August 2, 2011

5 things we can learn from MasterChef Australia

OK, I have held out as long as I could before commenting on a reality TV show. This one though, is exceptional in so many ways...
It's an IP adaptation and improvement. Fremantle Media bought the rights to create MasterChef Australia. Having watched the UK parent show, there is much to be said for the great job the Australian production crew have done in making it colourful, contemporary and exciting. They have bought an idea and made it better.

Those in the business of commercialising ideas could learn something from that. It's a cracking example of content as marketing. In your face attention grabbing marketing is losing traction. As audiences get more and more savvy, it becomes about selling me things I am interested in at a time I am thinking about them. Read 'Permission Marketing' by Seth Godin if you want to start a journey of learning in this area and then follow it up with 'Free' by Chris Anderson and you will be on board with this insight.

It's an amazing example of a culture few of us get to observe. The career of Chef is an old one with a traditional Apprentice/Mentor structure. Gary was George's Mentor and now they are clearly peers in chefing excellence. It's a pleasure to see the respect they hold for each other on show. This translates to a fabulous dynamic with the contestants. The spirit in which they compete is one of humility and is focussed on a desire to create new value, (through the meals they create) it's abundant. Most reality shows are about withholding, scarcity and power-plays to diminish a competitor. In my opinion, the bouncy George and cheeky faced Gary have a lot to do with setting this tone. It's a brilliant tribute to expertise. Matt, the food critic, knows his stuff. Each guest Chef is a Master in some wonderful application of food preparation. The masters are as enamored with the guest Chefs as the contestants. They all celebrate one primary purpose: to move people through the creation of wonderful food. It is 'edutainment' at its best (for me at least).

If you wanted to learn something, this program is a model for future education. The students are interested in the topic. The teachers are passionate. Growth is achieved through a well balanced mix of challenge and competence. Then, just when it gets a little dry or academic, they plan a road trip. Imagine learning Italian that way or guitar or maybe even business.

Maybe, just maybe, more people who teach, manage or lead should look at MasterChef Australia as a role model. If that's reality tv... I am all for it.


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