the agile chef - sauce mornay

The Agile Chef

This Week’s Agile Recipe is Sauce Mornay.


Bechemal Sauce


In the last sprint we prepared the base ingredients for the Bechamal Sauce. In this sprint before allocating story points we have to break-down the stories into tasks. But before that, we must groom the menu. In this case heating and the adding of cheese to the sauce are obvious candidates for grooming. By putting the cheese and heating stories into the backlog we can use this sprint to mix and make the Bechamal sauce. At the demo we can then give the diners – or the product owner – some cold Bechemal sauce for starters and they will give us their feed back.

First Sprint Planning:

As heating and cheese have been groomed these topics should not be discussed during the sprint planning and we shall not mention them here. The story Bechemal sauce requires no heating or cheese, but several ingredients are required and these should be added in an algorithmic fashion. The SPL might decide to promote the sauce story into an Epic at this point, and there will be break-out meetings if this occurs. Each ingredient represents a task, and there are the additional sub-tasks of weighing and measuring for each of the ingredient tasks. Allocate story points to the tasks and sub-tasks depending on the complexity of the ingredient. The SPL will then perform the calculations to ensure that the number of story points in the epic does not exceed the sprint limit. Don’t forget the build, so add another story for “mixing” and allocate story-points for stirring. At this stage it does not matter which member of the Team does the stirring, we are just ensuring there will be a stirring story up on the board.

During the sprint:

It is absolutely forbidden for anybody – even the maitre d’ – to disrupt the sprint and the scrum master is solely responsible for discipline in the kitchen. From now until the end of the sprint all Team communication must cease and discussion may only take place during the daily stand-up and with the scrum master’s approval. While mixing and stirring ingredients the chefs should try to maintain eye-contact with one another and keep a close eye on each others’ body language. Update your menu burn down daily, and don’t forget your velocity. If there are any blocking issues communicate them only to the scrum master and they will be resolved within twenty-four hours. Do regular unit tests by tasting the mix each time an ingredient is added – but don’t eat it all! Try to think in a test driven way if you like by imagining what it should taste like first then cooking-towards-the-taste, but don’t forget to leave some for the demo. If any ingredients turn out to be off, talk to the project leader who will decide whether to produce the sauce without them, or to go ahead as planned.

The Demo:

Although a demo don’t forget it’s a presentation. Wear suits, but dress casually. Make sure the diners are seated at the table, and that it is presentably laid. It does not have to be fully laid out with cutlery, glassware, napkins, and side dishes at this stage, so long as those stories remain in the backlog. But make sure the diners don’t have to lick it up with their tongues. Pour some of the sauce into their bowls, and give them spoons – no forks – and leave the diners to comment on what they think of the meal so far.

The Retrospective:

The “retro” is often an emotional meeting and thus only members of the scrum are permitted to take part. If the diner has vomited, for example, this should not be taken as a complete rejection of the Mornay product. Express your despair amongst yourselves, huddle, and remember you are agile. Next sprint you’ll add some cheese, warm it up a bit, and everyone will be delighted.

And who knows, Cold Raw Bechemal Sauce may just turn out to be the next “must eat menu” for gourmets.

Next week’s recipe – Unspoiled Agile Broth