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Blog: Learn management from cooking shows

Blog: Learn management from cooking shows

Recently I was watching another episode of Hell's Kitchen and it struck me - working in a kitchen is a condensed version of working on software development. Lot's of egos, tons of pressure, sharp knives and chaos as a team attempts to work together towards a common goal. Yet, a well run kitchen is a thing of beauty and can avoid exploding into a flaming wreck when run correctly. How do different people, working at break neck speeds manage to coordinate their efforts into a well timed delivery of food? Why are there not more stabbings in such an intense environment? Communication. A well run kitchen is constantly talking. Watch one of these inside the kitchen type shows. They are real eye openers about the power of effective communication.

The executive chef barks out the orders. The cooks repeat back the orders to show that they heard correctly and understand their current task. Watching the communication among the cooks was the real eureka moment for me. If they don't speak, they fail or, worse, someone gets hurt. From telling another cook that they need two more minutes before they are ready to plate a dish, to letting them know that they are approaching them with a pan full of hot oil, each cooks livelihood and life, depends on the regular and open communication from everyone on the team. In this environment there is no such thing as keeping secrets or talking too much.

All software teams need to take the lessons from the kitchen and apply it to there teams. Scream, yell, it doesn't really matter as long as the team is communicating and communicating the information that is needed at that moment. Take the "Let's hear some chatter" lesson from little league and apply it at work. Programmers, designers and project managers need to constantly be talking to one another or else someone will get stuck in the weeds. After all no one enjoys poorly cooked software.

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