Restaurants Compared to the Dev Shop

Some educationalshows for development shops and development managers can be found, surprizingly, onthe Food Network (US, Canada, not to mentionthat many are played on, and often originatefrom, various other “lifestyle” type channels).

Some of these shows are homegrown, such as RestaurantMakeover and OpeningSoon, while others are imports, like the excellent Ramsay’s KitchenNightmares, Jamie Oliver’s School Dinners, and Jamie’s Great Escape.

You’ve probably gained the impression that I’m anepicurean, interested in the operations of the restaurants, andprobably dreaming of the day when I can open my own (“We’llmake the best French onion soup ever!”). While I dolike well-prepared menu delights, the foodis the least interesting part of these shows, in my opinion.And I have zero interest in opening a restaurant (thedream-crushed rate among restaruranteurs has to rank among theworst for passion pursuits), and like small-talk as much as Ilike getting a tax bill.

Instead the real message of these shows boil down to –

  • Passion – When you don’t havepassion, it’s hard to enjoy yourself, much less produce a goodproduct. Whether it’s a cook that’s using mix to make soup (a”copy/paste” chef), or a software developer judiciouslycopy-pasting, doing the minimum possible to stay employed, dreamingof whatever comes after the work day ends.
  • Communications – Open, honest communicationsis critical in a team, keeping everyone on the same page, lettingeveryone contribute to the success.
  • Simplicity – a bad core product isn’t madebetter by embellishments and complexity. The more focused a productis, the more likely it will be of quality.
  • Realism – the end result of realism is usuallysimplicity, and it’s a realization of what your strengths anddomain really are, allowing you to narrow your focus. Trying tocater to all guests, or in the case of software to build solutionsthat handle any problem, is bound to lead to a third-ratesolution (or meal) for a wide audience, but a first-rate solutionfor no one.

Situations analogous to the software development processendlessly play out between chefs and his staff (team managers/leadsand their team members), the chef and the front-room staff (teammanagers/leads and business partners), and the restaurant andcustomers (the organization and end users). Many times thesolutions parallel how the similar situation would be solved in thesoftware development field.

If you relax to television on occasion, and mourn the summertime(speaking to the Northern hemisphere in that statement) dearth oforiginal programming, check out some of these shows for aninformative eye-opener.

We’re the chefs and menu planners and sous chefs and pastrychefs of the digital world.