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The Kitchen Nightmare Approach to Continual Service Improvement

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Gordon Ramsey

Gordon Ramsey

Following on from my trip to itSMF Norway last week, I wanted to share with ITSM Review readers my thoughts on Rae Ann Bruno’s presentation along with some of the key pieces of advice that she presented.

Believe it or not this presentation focused on the well-known chef, Gordon Ramsey. “What on earth can Gordon Ramsey teach us about ITSM?” I hear you all cry! Well as it turns out… a lot.  Rae Ann focused on the programme “Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares” where Gordon Ramsey takes failing restaurants and turns them into successful ones and how his recipe for success (sorry I couldn’t resist) is the perfect model for IT services.

The Gordon Ramsey approach

The approach that Gordon Ramsey takes in this programme is as follows:

  • He goes to the restaurants and puts himself through the customer experience (he orders and eats like any other paying customer)
  • He speaks with other customers, the staff, the owners and the chef to understand different perceptions (helping him to understand the full impact of the problem, gathering data from all sources)
  • He looks at: process time, wait time, defect rates, root causes and other information that can lead to targeted improvements
  • He defines the quality required to staff and the chef (trust me, it’s not frozen lasagna)
  • He gets the team onboard with his plan and remodels the restaurant
  • He helps bring the team together to communicate better and provide more effective service

Where does ITSM fit in?

Rae Ann explained how this exact approach should be taken for continual service improvement when it comes to ITSM:

  • Understands customer expectations
  • Defines services
  • Assesses process, people and tools
  • Defines quality
  • Ensures adherence to policy and procedures
  • Manages relationships between teams, people and processes
  • Verifies communication process

As bizarre as the concept sounded at the start of the presentation, she was right. If you are struggling with your processes or your service then perhaps the first thing you should do is sit down and watch an episode of Gordon Ramsey in action.

The need for service catalog

Rae Ann also continued with her restaurant examples to explain why every organization needs a service catalog. To quote her exactly: “An organization without a service catalog is like a restaurant without a menu”. What would happen in a restaurant if there was no menu? If customers could come in and simply order whatever they fancied?

  • There would be an inordinate about of waste (because the kitchen would have to be stocked with every ingredient possible, some of which may never actually be required)
  • The restaurant wouldn’t be able to set any expectations to customers
  • Assumptions would be made by customers that the chef knows how to cook anything and everything
  • It would fail. There is no way this model can succeed

The same is equally true of not having a service catalog.

Additional advice

Rae Ann’s presentation was highly entertaining and laden with lots of other common sense advice such as:

  • Always set customer expectations and ensure that you can deliver a service to match them
  • Be realistic and honest with your customers and yourself. Don’t try to make things look better than they are
  • Always follow the continual service model
  • Ensure that you understand business goals and that your efforts are aligned with them. How can you do your job effectively if you don’t know what you’re working towards?
  • Sufficient and effective communication is critical to success, far more important than your tool and processes
  • CSI is not a process. It is never finished, you cannot complete it

All in all, it was an incredibly practical and sensible session. The only downside to this presentation is that I will probably never be able to watch Kitchen Nightmare’s again without thinking about IT service management.

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