Saturday, August 03, 2013

More to the point...

The blog isn't ending, however the latest and greatest is now on Twitter.


Sunday, June 09, 2013

What Hell's Kitchen tells me about business

Hell's Kitchen, by the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay, is into it's eleventh series. It is strangely compelling due to the blend of the volatile Ramsay and the car crash-worthy screw-ups of the contestants, who vie for a high-paying, high-profile job with the English chef. Hell's Kitchen also strangely tells a lot of things about how business works in general, even though seemingly the kitchen world has nothing in common with the business world. It does however, and it's this:

The importance of communication

Hell's Kitchen shows that communication is key for a successful kitchen brigade. Any member needs to  be able to tell the others how far out he or she is, versus the other elements of the order. The show also shows what happens if communication breaks down: dishes arrive at the pass too late, or too early. If meat station needs to rush, because fish is already up, you may end up with raw meat.

Same for the business world, communication is key. While the effects are not as immediate as inside a kitchen brigade, the process when doing a project, following-up a business operation are still applicable.

And it's not so much that communication is important - we figured that - but Hell's Kitchen shows a myriad of reasons and causes why communication breaks down, and which apply to business as well. People sometimes have personalities that are more sedate. Some people are tired. Some people turn inwards when confronted with errors. Some people play politics and stop talking to sabotage the process. And some people don't communicate because they are plain dumb.

Of course Gordon Ramsay always calls his contestants on it. Often very violently.

Preparation and knowledge

Prep work for each dinner service is often given less than a minute of air time on the show. And usually it is part of the show's punishment for losing. But the after effects when prep work is done incorrectly are highlighted on the show. It shows you that in business the old adage still applies, failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

Preparing also means picking up the knowledge to do your job. How often do you see on the show contestants running around clueless, or getting cursed at and then not knowing what to do. Or making stupid mistakes in the first place. And then Gordon takes their heads off, often followed by throwing them out of the kitchen.

Leadership and authority

Hell's Kitchen is about people, about groups and teams. Some people naturally take leadership, others follow. And everybody is supposed to listen to Chef Ramsay. However the show is at its most compelling when people don't accept the leadership of others.

"How's this guy telling me what to do?"

"Leave me alone and let me do my job."

"Stop whining and do what I say."

Of course contestants are not allowed to talk back to Chef Ramsay, and if they do it always ends badly for them.

In business too authority and leadership comes into play. We have seen businesses fail because leadership is not taken, or taken incorrectly. We have seen leadership not being accepted for various reasons: perceived capability or incompetence of the other; straight up dislike or even hate; genuine lack of leadership skills. All those reasons are on display in Hell's Kitchen.

Hell's Kitchen is a microcosm of human nature. It is an analogy for business life. It shows the importance of communication, preparation and leadership. It however doesn't show that while blowing up might work for Gordon Ramsay and his kitchen brigade - and it may in fact be the number one reason people watch Hell's Kitchen in the first place - it may work out differently in the office.

Just saying.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Estimating Projects

The way traditionalists play the project management game is based on one premise: being able to accurately predict the future. Don't matter that humankind is notoriously dreadful in predicting and estimating a full-on project, much the same as they are predicting the weather, sports events or the stock market.

Of course people can look at past experiences, statistics, and scientific insight to derive a project estimation. And sometimes people may be close to the actual outcome. Metrics derived from best practices, literature, science and the so-called subject matter experts are always degrees removed from the practice, the project and the job at hand. Therefore estimating your current job with this data is inaccurate. Not to say that you should ignore this data, but the true source of accurate estimation is the Team itself.

The experience built during a SCRUM project can be directly related to the people doing the work, the Team. And therefore it has a higher probability to be close to the actual outcomes. SCRUM will not help me estimate better or predict the future better. It's not even unique in using past data to estimate the work. But nothing changes the fact that - at best - a manager's estimation is an informed guess. It best be informed by the people who know about what they are doing.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Observations after watching Iron Man 3

I still don't get what can actually kill the bad guys.

No matter what, stay in your seat and wait for the credits to end of any Marvel movie you see

Truthfully seeing all the Iron Man suits in action at the same time, is the closest I have been to whooping in quite some time

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Retaliation: Or the senseless act against London

Couple of random thoughts on the movie:

Sort of spoilers.

1) see? This is what happens if you actually understand the key success factors of your source material; you get a good movie. So no power suit shit, no snake eyes mask with lips, no token random black guy taking a part he has no business in, hitting on the hot girl in the group.

2) but was *that* the scene that caused it to get delayed by a year?! In what universe did the plot require to have this explained a little more? I am saying bull.

3) first Paris in part one, now almost Paris again after levelling London. What did the french do to GI Joe? And had the Eifeltower been rebuilt yet?

4) obviously The Bruce Willis ends up with the girl, because.Hey! father issues.....

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Invisible or Unmissable

At some point in your career you'll find either nobody notices you around, or everybody notices when you are not. Neither situation is particularly good, but for different reasons. The former tend to get frustrated, get passed over, get ignored. The latter get overworked, burned out and overstretched.

Truly a case where the happy middle is indeed so.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How to handle an opinion different from yours

The outrage people express when a reviewer or journalist shares an opinion that apparently doesn't exactly match theirs, is getting out of control.

It is even from random people, who have nothing directly to do with the content, nothing to do with the event. The most vocal cases are from fans, who see every statement about their fandom as an attack on humanity.

Opinions are exactly that. I use opinions to gain some more insight into things, events that I don't know about, but I always use more than one - and more importantly I gather even more info to forge my own opinion. Now if I end up not agreeing with some vlogger, or columnist then it will always be with arguments. It certainly won't be with outrage.