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What Carving A Pumpkin Can Teach You About Operational Efficiency

Posted by mike in Blog 1 Comment


So I recently was at the local Tesco in Dublin and decided to pick up a pumpkin.  I just couldn’t resist to relive a childhood memory of pumpkin carving.  After all, it has been a while since I put my existing artistic skills to the test.  What I discovered this time around, were a couple of lessons of operational efficiency, that apply well to the business world.   Here’s my story…

After doing a quick search online I decided on the following steps:

1. Find a face template online

2. Outline your template using a pencil

3. Use a serrated knife, it cuts pumpkin flesh better

4. If you make any mistakes, you can always reattach pieces using a toothpick


Scissors,  template and whits in hand I embarked on my self-instigated knife-wielding endeavor.  I followed the recommended steps found online,  template, outline, cutting off the top, scooping out the innards with my stainless steel ladle.  It all made sense when I first read it, but I began to think about other ways to accomplish the same task.  Here’s what I came up with:

Smaller hands, make it easier to remove the insides… I had a 5kg pumpkin, and my larger hands made it hard to reach certain parts with my massive spoon.   I ended up “outsourcing” the last bit of this to my smaller-handed wife. Lesson: Use the right tools for the job.

I began cutting out the mouth, and popping out  the individual pieces. It takes quite a bit of force to cut the pumpkin. I found myself wrestling with this orange-hued cousin of a squash.  It would have been better to pop out the pieces at the end, as each piece that I removed, specifically the mouth(due mainly to it’s size), reduced the structural integrity.  The more pieces that you take out, the higher the risk that you might crack what is left. Lesson: Reduce risk of failure by tweaking your process.

While using the serrated knife, I realized that although it cut better, it was more difficult to control.  Slipping up means that you can leave your jack-o-lantern with a slash across his face.  (Note, depending on where you live, this could provide you with some much-needed “street cred”.)  I ended up using a curved knife to cut out the initial outline, then I used the serrated knife to continue carving. The initial cut, creates a line that makes the serrated knife easier to guide, and more accurate.  Although this technique takes a little more time, the quality of the final product is more accurate to the original design.  Lesson: Adding an intermediary step can lead to a more refined final product at the cost of increased production time.

Rather than cutting off the top, it would be better to cut a circle in the bottom.  Doing this, would make it easier to clean out, as the contents could just fall out with gravity.  The added bonus, is that adding in a candle is easier with a match, you won’t need a long lighter to light it.  The downside, is that you won’t be able to use this as a trick-or-treat goodie bag(if that’s your intention). Lesson: Remember that design affects functionality.

A final thought.  I ended up with a small mountain of orangish-gooey pumpkin innards. This comprises of a mesh of seeds, slushy pulp, and a more dense pumpkin inner wall.  Not entirely certain what to do with it, I dumped it into a large tupperware container and tossed it into the fridge.  Lesson: Make the most of your resources(even waste!). Reduce, reuse and recycle where possible. If you have any ideas what I can do with it, please do share in the comments below!

So there, you go, his name is appropriately Jack, and he’s reminded me of a couple of important business guidelines, and he’s  ready to bring a smile to your face today!

Jack the Pumpkin

Jack the Pumpkin

About the Author: Michael Munevar is an eCommerce Specialist, frequent traveler, online marketing pro and passionate about the marriage of business with technology


Tags: business, carving pumpkin, halloween, operational efficiency

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