Cows are made of steak… Reply


A few years ago I published a blog similar to this describing a conference I attended where the speaker was emphasizing the importance of perspective. He used the example of a cow to make his point. Cows are not the most attractive animal but many of us love cows indirectly because they are made of steak and butter and cheese and gum…

While this proved to be very funny at the time, the point was clear that often we see things from a narrow perspective without taking in all the benefits and advantages that are available to us. It seems that while technology advances rapidly, our ability to change a process or approach doesn’t. The difficulty in discussing topics like change or agile or lean is that most times the dialogue is singularly focused, based on historical data or trends and does not account for the differing applications or advantages that can be gained if we were to look beyond the mainstream.

The single largest failure that organizations experience in attempting to adopt an agile or lean program is their inability to look beyond the word or phrase. Their thinking is often shaped by something in print rather than putting something into real practice enough times and in the right ways to see the benefit.

Our perspective then is best shaped when we account for the many benefits and outcomes that will be derived from the application and use of that single model, program, methodology, etc. The thinking then is that if cows are made of all those wonderful things many of us enjoy then so it goes with things like agile or lean or sourcing or change. The one thing we are seeking to implement, adopt and employ has to be first assessed for it’s greater good and meaning to the organization.

  • Do we understand all the benefits we expect to derive from agile?
  • Have we accounted for the multifaceted approach that we can employ?
  • Do our people see beyond the word and understand the reasons to do it?

There are many questions like these we can ask. To boil it down, perspective is critical to the program’s success. Putting agile practices, or any other for that matter, into play without knowing what we want from it and what all the available outcomes (steak, cheese, gum, etc…) are is a major risk and a certain impediment.