Achieving Excellence or Flying Too Close to the Sun? 🙈 #EVOO

<img src="olive oil.jpg" alt="award winning California extra virgin olive oil">

You might be looking at the above picture and thinking, "Wow, look at that, Gold, Gold, Gold, Best of Class, Best of California."

But we are reviewing our 2016 vintage and thinking, "How can we improve?  How can we do this better?"  What do we hope to achieve?

For one, we hope to spread the word about our oils and how they can be used daily.  We can emphatically say that they are quality oils.  We work to get every detail right, from growing to harvesting, to selection of our mill, to formulating, to labels, to bottling, and then growing that enthusiasm about using olive oil daily and encouraging our family and fans to spread the word.

One of the glaring areas of improvement as the creator of our flavored oils is that one silver medal.  If you know us, you'll know that silver is better than bronze, but we want this oil to have a gold medal -- not because we want medals, but because we want to offer the absolute best that can be offered.  This oil in past years has won golds.  What, then, has changed?

<img src="olive+oil.jpg" alt="Formulating Flavored Olive Oils
To create our flavored oils, we do not just pour flavoring into the oil and we're good to go.  We choose the best products available, formulate, test the oil on its own merits, test the oil on food, adjust, and do this over and over and over until it is the way we want it.  The oil changes yearly based upon the growing conditions, so, too, must our formulations.  Some years work better than others.

Our olives are usually harvested in November and the first thing (and most important) is to submit our oil to the COOC for our extra virgin certification.  During this time, the oil rests for approximately a month.  Our flavored oils are then made and bottled, as well as our EVOO, and submissions for competitions begin in January to February.   Harvest through February is a busy time and not one in which we should be tinkering with recipes.  They've got to be good to go before then.

So we've spent the last two months (okay, two years) working on improving that one oil.  I know what I want it to be (what it used to be), but in our view, it's not where we want it.  Don't get me wrong, next to our EVOO, this is still our best selling oil and our customers love it, but I have benchmarks that I expect the oils to achieve.  Most of this is fine-tuning and may not even be discernible to a customer.  I have an idea forming of why it is not what it used to be, but it has more to do with things that are not within our control.

How, then, does one achieve improvement and excellence when certain variables are outside of their control?   Our considerations are:
  • Will the time spent attempting to achieve our goal of excellence yield improved results?
  • Will the judging panels notice a marked difference?
  • Does the average customer notice an improvement?
  • Could the time spent changing things decrease the quality of the known commodity?
  • Are we happy with it?
In the end, after consideration of all of the above, I think the last two things are the most important and key, achieving the excellence we are seeking without flying too close to the sun, so our product is the best we can possibly offer without compromising what we have achieved thus far.  The bottom line is that we've got to be happy with it and then the customers will be happy with it.  

Do you create products?  If so, at what point does one say, "Stop.  Leave it alone.  It's perfect the way it is."

We'd love to hear your thoughts.

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