Bar Rescue and Running IT – A Book Review of “Raise the Bar: An Action-Based Method for Maximum Customer Reactions”

jon_taffer_book (300x186)First the disclaimer… I am a fan of Jon Taffer’s Bar Rescue show and have been for the last couple of years. While we all know the reality shows are made primarily for entertainment, I enjoyed the show because I believe it teaches some valuable business lessons. When Jon’s book “Raise the Bar” came out, I was eager to find out what wisdom Jon could share from all those businesses he tried to rescue. I also wanted to compare notes and see what other insights I might have missed and could pick up.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that many things Jon discussed in the book are pretty consistent with what I thought about the show. I think his advice can be helpful not only to the bar business but also to other types of business. My professional work is in the IT area, and I believe the advice will work for delivering technology services, too. Here are just a few examples good business practices that, I believe, resonate well with the work in IT:

“You cannot have a great business without creating one great, positive reaction after another.”

“My definition of a standard boils down to this: qualifiable, quantifiable, and verifiable.”

“There has to be an established process for you to do a walkthrough of your business and determine whether everything is being done right and, if not, how to fix it.”

“Successful businesses have winning teams that promote and encourage winning players and mitigate weakness through peer pressure. Teams work together on clear objectives that force individual members to perform or leave.”

As it turns out, running a, excellent IT shop is not that different from running an excellent bar. I believe a disciplined IT organization can not only deliver positive experience to its business constituents but also operate at a highly competent level. While customer reaction and standard management are crucial, the book also emphasizes the importance of hiring solid employees who will fit well with your business and help everyone succeed. Although some interactions in the shows sometimes can get a bit superficial in front of the cameras, overall, I am convinced that Jon’s recommendations in the book are solid and actionable.

One last quote I liked… “Good people need to be treated with dignity – it’s your fault for hiring the wrong person; it’s not the employee’s fault for being the wrong person. That’s humanity.”

This is my main take-away from the book. Although running a bar or a IT business can be a science, it still takes people who are capable and committed to following the processes and to get the best results. At the end of the day, IT is still all about the people.