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Agile and the Kitchen

June 19th, 2017 · No Comments

by Dwayne Phillips

In which I consider what happens in a kitchen and ask, “what was it those guys with the manifesto invented?”

For years, my wife has managed kitchens in all-volunteer organizations. For years before that, my wife’s mother did the same. Consider the situation:

  • There is unprepared food
  • There is an end-state—prepared food
  • Some volunteers walk in with mixed and largely unknown skills

The person in charge (PIC) gives a task to each volunteer and observes. When a volunteer nears completion of a task, the PIC tells them of the next task. The “next task” depends on what the PIC has learned about the volunteer’s skills and how fast the volunteer is learning.

Some volunteers leave after a task or two. Some volunteers appear at some point during the preparation of the food.

As the food preparation progresses, the nature of the tasks changes. The PIC works through the tasks with the volunteers

This all sounds like agile software development. The PIC is the SCRUM master (in one set of agile terms). The volunteers are the team members. There is a start state and an end state. One meal is one sprint. There is a backlog of features. And so on it goes.

Really, so we have to have a certified SCRUM master or someone to be the PIC? This backlog or kanban or something is all new? Learning while working is also something new?

Hmmm, seems like a lot of people have been preparing a lot of meals for a long time, and none of them went to an Agile conference or anything.

So I have to ask again,

“what was it those guys with the manifesto invented?”

Tags: Adapting · Adults · Agility · Learning · Observation

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