Story: Jiro’s Dream of Sushi and Complexities of Cooking


Some people believe that cooking is not a big deal, especially if the food is not complex. We had a family friend back in Iran who was not a good cook. She believed, however, that those people who make delicious food simply add more butter to their dishes and she does not want to make her food unhealthy with fat. That was her justification for the abominable product she called “food”. It was funny and sad at the same time.

Some people get surprised how much detail goes into making tasty food. Imagine sushi, which is basically rice and a piece of fish or vegetable or egg. In a documentary about the legendary sushi master “Jiro Ono”, they lay out how much work, training and detail goes into producing first class sushi. He explains how he had tried every day in the past 70 years of his life to push sushi towards perfection. The journey starts with choosing the right fish at the fish market, getting a special kind of rise that needs high pressure to be cooked properly, making the perfect soya sauce, smoking sea weed with aromatic plants, cutting the fish to the right size depending on the size of the rice, which itself depends on the person who is eating eat. The delicate preparation goes all the way to how to put the sushi in front of the guest, whether they are left- or right-handed and what is the chronology of different sushi pieces. The whole process is like a concert, each part perfectly matching the others to bring out the perfect experience.

And that is for a food that supposedly does not have much complexity in making. In other food where there are more ingredients and heat and fat involved, this complexity skyrockets.

In her amazing and informative book “Salt, Fat, Acid and Heat”, Samin Nosrat explains the harmony at play in prepping and combining ingredients with the right amount and different layers of salt, fat, acid, and heat. Recopies are close to worthless without paying close attention to these interplays and interactions and bring them toward a balanced bigger picture, which lands on our plates. We learn how important it is to salt or marinate some ingredients before even starting the cooking process, whether boiling, steaming, frying, barbequing, or heating in the oven. How heat affects different material, when should we add what item, how they should be chopped, what size they should have in proportion to other items, what spices or herbs go well with what kind of meat or vegetable, etc. All these small details contribute to the fact, that even with the exact same ingredients and “recipe”, we can have great dishes from master chefs and mediocre dishes from an amateur.

Creating a solution for process or project management on Jira as a platform is not much different. That is why the value and power of devigners[1] shall not be underestimated. Many clients ask for “standard” solutions and easy to maintain tools, without the repercussion of cheap quality, manual jobs, and incomprehensiveness. They basically want a cheap fast food with quality of a Michelin star restaurant. It does not go hand-in-hand. In general, however, decision makers are fortunately starting to understand that “standard” is neither helpful nor cheap in the long run. If a solution is not customized to the core, you are limping on a broken leg. And following some tutorials and guidelines does not make someone a devigner or solution designer, as much as reading a few recipes would not make anyone a master chef.

A lot of detail goes into designing solutions that are often neglected or undervalued. Questions that masterful devigner ask themselves in designing a solution are vast and diverse. Question such as:

  • What kind of custom fields do I need?

  • What Apps serve what I am trying to achieve best? How do they interact and interplay with each other?

  • Where do I put listeners instead of script fields?

  • What trigger should I use to automatically calculate a field?

  • What are the orders of the field and how do I organize them so that the users are not overwhelmed?

  • What diagrams do I use in my dashboards? How do I place them?

  • What color do I use for different items or links or gadgets?

  • How many and what states do I exactly need so that I can collect as much relevant information, but not exhaust users in the process?

  • What fields are actually compulsory and in what phases/transitions?

  • How to name my fields for maximum comprehensibility?

  • How do I put automatic calculations and fields in place without affecting the performance?

  • What does the user actually want[2]?

  • What kind of diagram depicts the message that adds a value to decision makers and users?

These are not the questions you can learn from reading a tutorial or watching an online webinar. Good cooking is a result of years of experience in the kitchen with different ingredients, salt, fat, acid, and heat. The same is true for “devigning” a solution. Designing and configuring a scalable, user-friendly, effective, and integrated solution for your project or process management has pretty much the same level of complexity and choice.

Now let us see how we can design a solution for our case project on Jira. Consider it a recipe! ;)

[1] If you skipped the first chapter and jumped over here, devigner is a term we defined as a combination of developer and designer, which is what Jira and Confluence developers do. It encompasses requirement analysis, programming, configuring, designing frontend, and conceptualizing backend and integrating systems with the right interfaces.

[2] This is not even clear to users themselves if you are familiar with requirement analysis and the pain analyst and designers should endure in the process.