Matt Hrivnak

Kaizen: There's always another future state

One of my favorite shows on TV in the past few years has been ‘Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares’ on BBC, and now on FOX.  After the second or third episode that I saw, I started thinking that each episode seemed to be very much a kaizen event:  quick bursts of energy focused on problem solving and imrovement.  Ramsay’s goal in each of the episode is generally the same:  to turn a poorly performing restaurant into a successful one.  Along the way, he encounters a number of different obstacles from inexperienced owners and egotistical chefs to poorly designed menus with too many choices.


The three or four days (according to the show) that Gordon Ramsay is in his transformational role always begin with Gordon sampling a few dishes during lunch time and then providing feedback (always negative, because let’s face it, it’s TV for one thing, and secondly, these restaurants would have customers if the food was good).  Later in that same day, he will attend the dinner seating; stalking and observing the kitchen operation and customer reactions.  At the end of that night, he meets with the entire restaurant staff and delivers his bad news.


The second day starts with Gordon introducing the staff to new dishes that he has created to: a) standardize the menu with fewer, but higher quality choices, which also allow for the use of pull systems and easy inventory control measures, b) provide the staff with the taste of food that is possible from the same equipment they already use, and c) to simplify the dinner service for that night offering these new items as specials.  Additionally, he will often take some of the staff members to visit successful restaurants in the area to observe the differences.


Between the second and third day, Ramsay’s staff of decorators does a make-over on the restaurant with new paint, table settings, etc.  This provides a fresh new standard for the restaurant going forward, and something for the employees to maintain.


In the beginning, many of the owners and chefs do not see anything wrong with their business, but still admit that they are losing money and need help.  Throughout the process, they eventually open their eyes to the problems and begin the difficult process of changing.


While this show lacks the team participation aspects of a kaizen event, it still shows the drastic positive changes that are possible within just a few days.  (He still manages to listen to all of the concerns of the employees and incorporates them into his new ideas.) The changes may not always be permanent, but a lot of the simple standards Ramsay puts in place seem to stay put; preventing the restaurants from falling back to their unsuccessful ways that led them to the show in the first place.


Here’s the link:


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Comments (1) Posted by matt on Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

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