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Elmar Schippers
Elmar Schippers

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How does your team make pizza?

Everyone in your team know how to make a pizza, but what happens when you ask each person in your team to make pizzas to feed everyone?

  • Josep is classic foodie and does everything from scratch. He will make his own dough, make his own sauce and grate his own homemade cheese.
  • Ewelina loves a hearty vegetarian pizza and will stack it with every possible vegetable under the sun. The thicker the pizza the tastier it is for her. All her pizzas are topped with fresh cottage cheese.
  • Francesco can’t get enough of pineapples on pizza. No matter the pizza, it need some pineapple.
  • Antti is a fan of simple pizza. Cheese under the sauce, a couple of pepperoni on top and that’s it.

They are all capable of making pizzas and they all achieved the requirement of feeding the team to various degrees of success (pineapple pizza anyone?). However none of the pizzas are similar nor are they ways the pizzas were made.

This might be okay in some scenarios, like feeding your team, but doesn’t really work when your team works with complex projects or complex systems.

Minh is new to the team and doesn’t know how to make a pizza. While Minh is an excellent cook is his home country and makes a mean spicy noodle soup, Minh is brand new to western food and has never really had pizza before.

No one has enough time to teach the entire process, the entire team is already busy (that’s why you hired Minh). So Minh is tasked to learn a little bit from everyone.

Josep will say that everything must be made from scratch. Antti will say that the cheese goes under the sauce. Ewelina says tell Minh, a good pizza needs 4 varieties of vegetables and topped with cottage cheese. Lastly, Francesco will proudly state that pizza toppings are required to at least 1/3rd pineapple.

Minh slaves away, trying their hardest to make the team proud. What the team receives is a plate of dough, layered with cheese, sauce, potato, pumpkin, carrots, bell peppers and half a pineapple. Topped with a healthy amount of cottage cheese.

Most people are not going to react favorably to an uncooked pizza with a mismatch of toppings. Minh listened to everyone and tried their hardest but ultimately failed. Is this Minh’s fault or a flaw in how the team functions?

No one had mentioned a pizza needs to be cooked in an oven. Everyone had just assumed Minh would know.

Being consistent within your team isn’t just useful for getting a repeatable result. It helps ensure new team members are able to get up to speed and productive quicker and more successfully.

This example is a fairly simple one, but try asking your team how they do their jobs.

  • How consistent is your team?
  • Do they use the same tools and processes?
  • Are they consistent in their order of steps?
  • How well is this all documented?

When a new person arrives, will they be able to read (and re-read) a clear set of instructions on how to write code in your team or will they be left to get bits and bobs of information from your busy team members?

Sometimes its important to take a step back and getting everyone on the same page with your processes and ways of working. In the long term your existing and new team members will be better off for it.

(Note: all people in this post are fictitious versions of some real life amazing people, except Francesco, he truly loves pineapple on pizza)

Top comments (2)

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

I like this analogy, but I would like to point out that Minh goes by the name "Jessie" after discovering they didn't make it right, which is exactly how a senior would dodge the blame.

jastill profile image
Elmar Schippers

Whoops, I did some name changing in my later edit thank you for noticing.

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