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About the 100 Things

In October 2009, the restaurateur Bruce Buschel, in the process of building his restaurant, Southfork Kitchen, in Bridgehampton, NY, wrote a two-part entry for The New York Times “You’re the Boss” blog entitled, “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do”.

I read with fascination a list of rules that reflected a deep understanding of the frustrations of diners and what front-of-house staff almost inevitably do to evoke angst.

Rule number 5 reads, “Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.” Uh … yes!

Rule 48 was, “Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.”

Rule 52, “Know your menu inside and out. If you serve Balsam Farm candy-striped beets, know something about Balsam Farm and candy-striped beets.”

Now, I loved this partly because I’m interested in food and restaurants. But, as I read it, I thought, my industry could use rules like this. I would like to have rules like this for myself. And, I started writing some down.

Buschel, as perhaps he must, approaches his wait staff with a bit of condescension and he reports a chilly reception by his employees. Many of the rules even sound as if they might have a silent “you morons” at the end of them. But, the people I work with are committed professionals who, even at their worst, are strongly motivated and driven to succeed. They are hungry for advice on how to be better at their jobs. So, I brought a list of maybe 35 rules to my team and challenged them to help me complete it.

In the end, I wrote a good 85 of our 100 rules, but I got the buy in I wanted. I delivered the rules to the team over a series of town hall meetings and incited some good discussion. Every once in a while, a few rules would pop up in a blog post or another town hall meeting. They became part of the team culture.

And I got a lot of positive feedback from other managers, HR, business counterparts, interns, etc. One particular comment stuck with me. One of our business managers said, “Every IT team should follow these rules. Heck, every team should follow most of them.”

Since then, I’ve been thinking about hitting a broader audience. Here we are. But, this blog also attempts to go beyond just the rules and to set out the logic and explanations behind the rules; reasoning that so far has only been delivered verbally.

For sure, I wish everybody on my team would do these 100 things all the time. But really, the rules are an ideal to strive for. They’re 100 things that I wish I would do all the time.

Oh, by the way, don’t go looking for the full list. It’s not here. I’m revamping as I go.

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