How do you explain re-use?

I was taken aback recently when someone told me they didn’t understand the concept of re-use.

You see, when I started out in software development, I was taught this concept, so I cannot imagine a world without it. Of course, I am not insensitive to other people’s situations, so I understand that if you have never worked any particular concept, you might have difficulty grasping it.

One example I saw involved a BA producing two process models for the exact same process, just because it was applicable to two business entities. On examining the process models, they were indeed identical, other than naming one “Open Account X” and the other “Open Account Y”.

I pointed out that it was the same process. The BA insisted they were not, but could not show any difference other than the process names.

Then the real challenge hit me: how do you explain re-use to someone who has never experienced it? It was so obvious to me that at first I could not figure out how to make it obvious to someone else.

I realised that if I used examples from software development or from the BA’s business domain, the BA could easily slip into traditional thinking. I needed an approach that used a completely unrelated subject as an example so as to break that thinking pattern.

And it was while doing something completely unrelated that the answer hit me. I was making a curry, in fact. Specifically, I was chopping an onion and I remembered the video clip below. Inspired by the magnificent Gordon Ramsay, I put together a tutorial which, when I tried it out on some test subjects, worked beautifully.

Ah, you assumed this blog post was going to explain the tutorial. Sorry, it’s an interactive tutorial which would not come across well in this medium. But there’s a clue in the freeze-frame of the video clip below.

Besides, you can’t learn everything I have to teach on this blog. Sometimes you have to hire me!

Kind regards,

Declan Chellar

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