Knowledge and Understanding vs Follow a Recipe

I’ve been learning to bake bread.

I’ve baked bread before, both with a machine and by hand. I can also turn my hand to cooking, although I wouldn’t claim to be an expert.

I wanted to bake better bread and make a wider variety of loaves so I got a few books and started following recipes. That’s when things started to go wrong. Recipes are all well and good, but there is so much assumed knowledge that just following the recipe doesn’t result in good bread.

It took me quite a few attempts along with researching on the internet for advice when things go wrong, but I eventually started producing half decent bread. I also learned how to make more difficult types such as sourdough bread. It was only when my level of understanding and knowledge rose after much learning experiences that I could properly bake according to the recipes The recipes themselves are not a lot of use.

The whole experience reminded me of my time as an architect. I started doing architecture having been a network and infrastructure engineer, a system developer and a business analyst, so I knew quite a bit about information systems and technology.

However, it took quite a while working with other architects, making mistakes, getting feedback and learning from others until I acquired the skill set that is needed to take on architectures myself. It helped that I knew about technology, but it takes a whole different mindset to identify what a system owner really wants to achieve and then propose various solutions, constantly iterating around the problem and solution options.

Learning about making bread entailed much trial and error. It wasn’t just a matter of following a recipe. Architecture is similar in that you can’t be a good architect just because you have solution knowledge or by following the recipes inherent in frameworks.

In both cases, bread making and architecture, you need experience, knowledge and understanding; the more experience, the deeper the knowledge and understanding, the better the result.

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