Dec 05 2008
Gordon Ramsay, a famous British food writer, business man and TV star. He stars in the Channel 4 series Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares which tells stories how he help some dreadful restaurants to come back to the business and win back customers. I watched the episode this Thursday, which was very impressive because I found that there were so much in common of what Gordon did in his show and what we did in our agile software development projects.
The show started, he walked into this rural Lancashire pub where he had found the landlord laying down the law in the kitchen and doing 120-hour weeks, despite undergoing a quadruple heart bypass, and had debts of £250,000.
It reminds me a failing project that was over spent and had people doing quite a lot over time but still did not seem to make the deadline.
Gordon identified some key problems and found out the root causes very quickly.
|£250,000 debt||Restaurant was running very inefficient, one person was the decision maker for everything.|
|No one could work in this restaurant more than 6 months||Team was forced to taken order from the owner and no motivation and appreciation|
|There were many fancy plates, decorations that were not necessary and did not match Pub theme food||Not customer centered and lack of communication with customer|
|People did not trust each other, there were huge boundaries between the manager and staffs.||Lack of communication and integrity|
Does it ring any bell to you? Yes, we had very similar problems in software development projects. Let’s look at a series of ways that Gordon tried to solve above problems.
- Changed the menu that is simpler and customer centered
- Kicked the boss out of kitchen and let other chiefs make decisions as a team
- Got rid of those fancy plates which did not suit for the pub food theme and was not used that often
- Strengthen what they were good at (Original puddings) as a brand and selling point
- Encourage communication inside the team and with customers
- Gathered the whole team to do stand up meeting and asked them to look back what they did right or wrong
- Motivate the team, show praise and appreciation to the team, build good relationship between the boss and the team members
Gordon Ramsay played a very good project manager role in this game and he demonstrated many good software development practices by using agile and lean principles.
|Problems||Root causes||Solutions and practices||Principles/Methodologies|
|£250,000 debt||Restaurant was running very inefficient, one person was the decision maker for everything.||Change menu, make it simple and efficient, customer centered||KISS, Lean(Eliminate waste), Value driven|
|No one could work in this restaurant more than 6 months||Team was forced to taken order from the owner and no motivation and appreciation||Kicked out the boss, team motivation and decision, self-organized team||“Walk Out The Door”, People who do the work make decision, Lean (Empower the team), Lean (Build integrity in)|
|There were many fancy plates, decorations that were not necessary and did not match Pub theme food||Not customer centered and lack of communication with customer||Got rid off unnecessary stuffs, more communication with customers||Lean (Eliminate the waste), User centered design|
|People did not trust each other, there were huge boundary between the manager and staffs.||Lack of communication and integrity||Stand up meeting, retrospective||Agile, Lean (Eliminate waste), encourage communication|
Running a business or managing a project might be very different between different industries and domains. However insight how to solve problems, there are methodologies and principles that could be used in common. Maybe it is because running a restaurant and developing a software are both professional service. I still remember that I benefited a lot from the experience of working in a restaurant when I started my IT career as a technical support engineer.