Cooking in the Scrum kitchen – What Does Your Kitchen Look Like?

Maybe I’ve been watching too much reality TV lately.

You know how the formula works: put a room full of talented people under unreasonable amounts of pressure and then turn the relentless eye of the camera on them. Bring to a boil, then stir occasionally. Whenever I see that recipe used I end up thinking to myself, “Hey, that’s just like software development!”

Of course everyone’s project “kitchen” is different. Some projects feel neatly organized, there may even be a matronly figure who cares for the team. All the knives are in the knife drawer. The dishes are clean. This would be a “Julia Childs” type of project.

Maybe you don’t have Julia around. Maybe your project kitchen has lots of sharp objects lying around. Perhaps the burners on the stove have only two settings: frigid and flambe! Everyday is an adventure in this kitchen, and only the strong survive. Call it “Hell’s Kitchen”.

What’s the point? Well, we all find ourselves in different environments when we are working on projects in one way or another. It helps to recognize the kind of environment we are in. More than once I have found myself dodging flying cutlery and thinking, “What did I do wrong?” Sometimes it’s not you at all. Sometimes it’s just the kitchen. Different cooks do well in different kitchens. Recognizing the environs we do well in is critical.

I had an opportunity to sit with two different teams on the same day recently and they could not have been more different. They each had many of the same tools at their disposal. Both were using Agile development. Both had similar levels of technical expertise. One meeting was a struggle – nothing came easy. The other breezed by with nary a problem.

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