Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kitchen Nightmare- Cooking Show or Management Lessons ?

People either hate him or love. Even though I am not a cooking fan myself, I watch all of Gordon Ramsey's shows to learn from his management styles. I can see your eyes roll. But walk with me a little longer. 

Take the Kitchen Nightmare show. In this show, Gordon helps restaurants in a very bad financial state to get a chance to become successful. He tackles food, budget, cost and even family issues to provide the owners a chance to succeed.

The show typically begins with Gordon meeting the family members, then tasting the food. He makes recommendations for change (Including fixing inter personal issues) and then mentors them as they successfully transform the restaurant. Most people call it monotonous and highly exaggerated. But, the shows has a policy of going back after a year or so to see what happened to these restaurants and there are successes and failures shown. 

For me the fascination has been his process and how it applies to our professional lives and projects.  So here is my view of the process

Get the Context (Get the Background)
One of the first thing Gordon does is to get a context for the problem. He does this by visiting the neighborhood to check other restaurants or by having chats with the key stakeholders to get their perspectives 
When we go to do similar project reviews, we have meetings with key stakeholders and try to get an understanding of the context before we try to fix the problems with the project

Taste the food (Check the Deliverable)
Next Gordon orders from the menu and samples the food being served in the restaurant to see if there are any problems. If there are any problems, the feedback is direct and not sugar coated. It is very harsh and get the cooks and owners really riled up.

When we do project reviews, we review all the deliverable created to date and make sure we provide detailed feedback on our findings. There is a need to  create a real baseline of understanding before we can fix any problems

Observe the functioning (Monitor the team)
Once the feedback is given, Gordon then watches the operation of the restaurant for one meal services. This way he can see first hand where the problem lies and allows him to confirm the feedback he received from the stakeholders. 

We watch the team go about its activities to observe how they interact with each other and the stakeholders. This gives us a first hand look at the actual problems with the project

Prepare the Owners (Motivate the team)
Most of the time, the Owners are living in a distorted view of reality - They blame everybody except themselves for the problem. Gordon does a thorough job of demolishing the owner's ego and get them to face reality. He fixes any other personnel or staff issues so that they are ready to receive feedback and be ready to change. Otherwise it is water off a Duck's back !

When we do project reviews, we really work on the people involved to make sure we understand their motivation and be able to fix any issues (Fire people if needed) so that the project has a chance to succeed. Without getting the team ready mentally for a change, any recommendations we make is just a waste of time!

Ring in the changes (Execute our Recommendations)
Gordon then rolls out the changes he wants. New menus. New Decor. New processes. Everything which will help them run a smooth restaurant

Once the team is mentally prepared, we walk them through changes in templates, process as well as organization. Making sure the team has a reasonable chance of succeeding

Mentor the team (Support Roll Out)
Gordon then watches and supports as the restaurant goes about trying out the new changes. The success of this try out and the positive feedback from the customers reinforces their minds and give the restaurant a chance to succeed 

We spent some time helping the team execute on our recommendation. Answering questions. Supporting the team and making sure they are ready to internalize the recommendations 

Closing (Exit)
Gordon, at the end of the successful services, get the team together to summarize and celebrate their success. With some last minute motivation and confirmations, Gordon moves on to his next project

We conduct an Exit session, where the team is able to feel the change and celebrate their success. Reenforcing their positive behaviors, we also provide them with key instructions on other tuneups they may want to pursue.

What do you think now? Don you think it is a Cooking related show or a management class? Do send me your thoughts !



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