Cooking and Communication

This past weekend I tried a new recipe that turned out brilliant. I can’t take too much credit because I followed a recipe provided by America’s Test Kitchen. There are a lot of analogies between cooking and developing software. Not all recipes are created equal and some are better written than others. The same is true of documentation. The point of cookbooks and cooking shows is to communicate a process to another person. This is also the reason behind documentation. In other words, documentation is an attempt to communicate a process to another person.

I like America’s Test Kitchen because it provides videos with detail explanations of the science of cooking and written recipes. Not only do they provide a detail explanation of how to prepare the dish in both written and video formats, they also explain the science of cooking. On the other extreme is learning to cook by trial and error. Learning to develop software by trial and error seems to be the norm rather than the exception in software development.

Many of us learned to cook from our grandmothers by verbal instruction. My grandma left off steps or failed to emphasis a specific point (she would tell you that I was not paying attention). If grandma was in a hurry she was terse in her explanations. This is the same problem when verbally explaining how a software process should work. Experts often leave off important steps or fail to emphasis a specific point. They often blame the user for failing to understand too.  Another excuse is not having time to communicate and this can be overcome too.

Complex system requires better communication

The whold idea of communication is a process.  The more complex a dish becomes the more complex the explanations need to be. The same is true with software because the more complex the product the more detail and clear the communication needs to be.

Application communication can take on many forms including written documentation (recipes), verbal communication, and even video explanations. Cooking is a repeatable process It turns out that cooking is just a repeatable process and there are a lot of ingredients that go into making a great dish or dessert. The better the communication of the process the easy it is to follow, understand and repeat. The better the understanding a person has of the cooking process (and especially of the cooking science) the easier it is to create a something new. The same is true with software development. The better the communication the easier it is for others to understand. The more one understands about the science of software the easier it is to create something new and different.

America’s Test Kitchen

13 Ways to Improve Communication with your clients

14 Quick and Effective Communication Tips for the Time-Challenged

Published in: on October 26, 2009 at 09:22  Leave a Comment  
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