Now that the dust has settled from the unexpected launch of David's blog last week, I realize that the event could have been a total disaster had I not "cooked the chicken" during each of the early steps of preparation. While I did not plan that the site would become public when it did, all of the systems on which it depended had been precooked. When hundreds of web visitors began to visit the site, the only surprise was that they were visiting so soon. By now, you may be wondering about this principle; let me explain...
Early in my career, I designed business automation systems for a variety of companies, both large and small. One of my clients at the time was Quick Food Systems, of California -- a reseller of food preparation equipment, such as you might observe in a KFC, restaurant, or supermarket deli. One day, I deployed a new server for this client and drove back to my office. When I arrived at my office, Jim Hill, the president of the company, was already on the phone: "you forgot to cook chicken, Eric," he said. "What does that mean?" I asked. Jim told me to come back to his office and he would show me. When I returned to Jim's office, I quickly found the problem and resolved it. "Now that I've fixed your systems, tell me, what does cooked chicken have to do with a computer?" I asked.
Jim explained that whenever he sent a technician to a customer's site to service a chicken fryer, he required that the tech cook a chicken on-site to confirm proper operations of the system. If the chicken was not adequately cooked, the technician would make adjustments and cook another chicken until it could be demonstrated that all components of the fryer were working properly.
The principle of the cooked chicken is to thoroughly test each component of a new or modified system at each step.
While the concept of thoroughly testing all components of a system is certainly not new to systems work, I have found that the image of a well cooked chicken has helped me reinforce the behavior.
Since that day, I have done my best to remember to "cook chicken" each time I set up a new system or modify an existing one. This process has saved me countless hours of follow-up support and has improved the quality of my work. The time savings have been so great, that I often find myself looking for opportunities to cook chicken with my existing systems as well.
The lesson that I learned that day has proven to be one of the most helpful tools in my business.