Transforming your business: “The Gordon Ramsay Way”

I must admit it: I am a big fun of Gordon Ramsay. And before you read on I must say that I am not endorsed or liaised in any ways to Gordon or any of his businesses. It is not just because he is a a world known chef or tv personnality. It is because I think he really embraces and represents all those things that we, leaders of business transformation, forsee as a must-do across all industries we endeviour to change.

As an avid user of the social networks a few days ago Gordon (and / or his community manager) let us know that it was the 21st anniversary of the first Gordon´s restaurant opening. 21 years that I consider of overall success, 21 years setting an example and an inspiration looking for quality, perfection and improvement across all industries, not just restauration only. And “how does he do that?” you may wonder. It is very simple, applying the very same principles that are applied as fundamental in every transformation. I suggest you watch any of his series of “Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares” or “Kitchen Nightmares“. The process is always the same in an attempt to change what it is an almost a failed business into something that can run and operate, is profetable and has good quality of service.

Step 1: Taste the food.

This would be the first step in every business we want to change. How do you know that your restaurant is not working if you dont even know the taste of the food you are serving? So this is my question to you: have you tested your own food? Regardless the service your company does the first step is to understand the products or deliverables your company is producing. Use them or get the final product in your hands so you can experience what your customers are experiencing. How can you transform something that you have never tried? This is one of the very important keys to be able to analyze what is going on.

Step 2: Watch the production / cooking process.

There is nothing more true than this: if you want to see…LOOK!!! How are things done? Why do we get the results we have? etc. In many occasions companies strive for results caring very little on how services or products are created. However, if your raw material, processes and technology is fine it will be very difficult to obtain bad results…unless the people that are operating are incapable of doing what is supposed they have to do.

Step 3: Investigate and get your hands “dirty” with the “insides”

In the episodes Gordon looks into the refrigerators, cookings, raw products, organization, skills of everybody (from the owners and managers to the chefs and waitreses). Everybody and everything gets under the microscope to, finally, understandi why the business it is in the state it is. We would do the same, check from the processes, check the technology, check the skills and capabilities of those who are delivering or are part of the process.

Step 4: Make some changes and test.

Now you have a good understanding of where the problem may lay so changes are needed. It could be the material you are using, the tools or the people. You ought to make changes if you want to obtain different results. Here is where things get tricky. Many companies think that by changing processese and / or technology business transformation is done. I am very sorry to say this but the most difficult thing to change in any business transformation project is the people. Changing how people think and behave is the most difficutl part. In some occasions training to fill some gaps may be possible as long as it is knowledge gap. However, when it is attitude and we have to comfront abversion to change or reality denial, then it is a huge task that can only be taken on with the help of upper management and a plan to change alongside human resources. If all these plans to change the way a person works fail, then we will have not other option but to replace the person…and this is a tough call that the executive will have to handle and put in place if they are really for the transformation.

Step 5: Full roll-out.

Once we have tested some changes and realized that they are positive and in the right direction it is time for a full roll-out. There will be resistance, especially from those not willing to change. At this point it will be difficult to go back if everything that has been tried has given positive results and ultimetely, those against changing will have to give up…resistance is futile.

Step 6: Watch and improve.

We can not be happy with the fact that we have made the changes we wanted in place and the business seems to be going in the right direction. We have to keep vigilant and how the market is moving, what our customers are expecting and our own capabilities to not lower our standards. Keeping an eye on the ball is a task that has to be performed at all levels as mistakes in a process or lower starndars will mean having to redo things or reengineer further down the line, with all the waste in time, money and resources.

As I always say:

Control the situation before the situation controls you


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