I delivered the below "Stick to Your Principles" presentation to the Agile Professionals Network (APN) Wellington branch in February. The theme of cooking in the presentation came after I had undertaken to cook the Christmas Turkey dinner. I did quite a bit of research to find the perfect recipe (thanks Gordon Ramsay). I had my set of instructions for making a delicious dish from a set of prescribed ingredients, a formula for attaining success. But here was the thing, we didn’t spend Christmas at our house, with my kitchen and my surroundings. No, we spent it at a holiday bach on the beach. The kitchen was different, no oven, only a stove and pots to cook with. I could only source tinned carrots. And you try telling my kids that they have to wait an additional 2 hours while the turkey ‘rests’ and re-absorbs the juices. Perfect Turkey dinner became the perfect Turkey hash shown on slide 3 of the presentation.
The thing is even if we have a recipe, the context of the situation can mean we can’t replicate a successful dish in a different environment. The key is guiding Principles. Know your system, know your customer and desired output. Like a good chef know the diner and the dish, have practices that work and produce that dish given the limitations of your environment, but understand the base principles of why things work and use them help them guide you.