What does your Cookbook look like? 

What type of cook are you?

Do you prefer to follow a recipe step by step or do you create meals around a concept?  Are you an experienced cook with many years of experience or are you at the beginning of your cooking journey? Or, like some, is cooking something that you do not enjoy, and you cook out of necessity to put food on the table – period?

I ask these questions as I would like to draw an analogy between cooking and ways of working and explore the idea with you.

Why the analogy between Agile and cooking?

Some organisations say they are Agile because they follow a few ceremonies and they change priorities often, suggesting that they are operating flexibly.  But if all we did each day was eat the same meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner, we may be stunted or begin to feel sick because we know we need a varied diet to remain healthy.  I think it’s the same with organisations.

We know, for instance, that green vegetables are healthy. However, if that is all we eat, then our health will begin to suffer. What we need is a healthy diet with variety in terms of food groups and ways to serve them. Experience in the kitchen, as in business, teaches us that the basics will put food on the table, or get the job done. On the other hand, add a dash of the right spice, involve systems thinking to consider the full experience, and serve it up in the right environment… then you have a recipe that will inspire and motivate people to add their own creative flair – and enjoy the experience.

Chef Flambéing in a kitchen

Many recipes.

There are many recipes that an organisation can follow as part of their ways of working. Scrum is one recipe. Kanban is another. SAFe could be considered a cookbook that you can pick and choose from to best meet your dietary needs and the number of people you need to feed. But there are other, spicier ingredients that add flavour and colour and enhance the basics. As we experiment with flavours within the kitchen, we can experiment and hypothesise with Lean Change Management as to how we will communicate the meal. We can put the customer first with Human Centred Design and find out what they really want to eat, and we can remove waste with Lean Approaches to make it a comfortable and rewarding experience.

Agile coaching can help identify what elements you may need to add to improve the interest and complexity of options in your organisation.

What’s on the menu?

Do you plan your meals around what people like to eat or do you prepare only what you feel comfortable cooking? Do you love looking through cookbooks, and blogs and social media for inspiration and suggestions or do you cycle through a standard repertoire of family favourites?

When you are challenged or under time pressures it’s easy to revert to a quick and easy meal.

So to in business, when there are stresses and challenges, people revert to what they know best. And for some, as an example, command and control is easier than listening, collaboration and co-creation. Experience and research  of different approaches mean that you have a broader array of options and can create and deliver the right environment. Or menu.

Do you have what it takes to be a MasterChef?

And in the kitchen, there are no guarantees that even if you have all the right ingredients, and the right recipes, that the meal will turn out beautifully. You need to test, and taste, and feel, and smell, and involve all your senses at many points in the cooking journey. No one expects to become a MasterChef overnight.  You need grit and determination. You need to be driven by a higher purpose.  And you need to be ready to try different things that take you out of your comfort zone.

Cooking, by definition, is an Agile process. There is upfront planning and preparation with a defined goal and outcome. But the approaches you take with ingredients, the tasting, the adding and taking away, can be as complex and iterative as software development. Agile cooking can result in a burnt out ugly mess. Or, it could surprise and delight you.

What are you going to do to expand your repertoire and improve your ways of working? Let us know by commenting below.

Did you know that Accuteque love helping organisations to make a difference to get things done? You can read more about Ways of Working here. 

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