Cooking and Coding

Sometimes, when we programmers sit down to explain programming, we resort to the hoary old cooking metaphor.

“Programming is like cooking”, we say. “We write recipes, and the computer carries them out”.

And sometimes methodologists apply it to our work too. “Our method is like a recipe”, goes the sales pitch to management. “Apply our method, fill out these 9 reports, these 4 strategies and those 27 checklists and voilà! The soufflé will rise.”

Well, maybe. But ask a chef about the secret of fine gastronomie, and they will tell that it’s the ingredients that count.

And if you ask any experienced PM or software engineering research about methodologies, they’ll tell you it’s the people that count.

The recipe is useful to prevent known, avoidable flavours. But no method can rescue a soufflé made with fish sauce and pine bark. You have to have the right ingredients first, or nothing good will come of the recipe.

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