We see patterns, create patterns, and think in patterns. Looking back at what I’ve written through the years in this blog, I see a macro pattern I can call, for the lack of a better name, the “What’s wrong with…” pattern.
The object is usually some common practice or a discipline that has established certain norms and stabilized them through training, certification, and tool design. It could also be a mainstream way of thinking about or doing something. Its object is usually taken for granted, rarely questioned if at all. If I find it harmless or slightly problematic, I don’t bother writing about it, but when it’s more fundamental and detrimental, then there is motivation.
So, this will not be a normal post but rather a signpost, a collection of pointers to posts with that pattern.
“What’s wrong with” is actually in the name of one article, What’s wrong with best practices. It could’ve been in titles of many more. Yet, it’s good to be careful here because the context is important as Tim Minchin convincingly reminded us with his song Cont.
The non-exhaustive list will look like this:
What’s wrong with…
- best practices, when applied to social systems;
- efficiency1There is a post and a talk here, but it’s way better explained in chapter 4 of Essential Balances.;
- Enterprise Architecture2In fact, the article that started this blog is also about that.;
- building blocks used metaphorically in IT and Enterprise Architecture and many other domains;
- service improvement ;
- “buying” ideas;
- human resources as a label for people working in an organization;
- the data-information-knowledge pyramid;
- requirements, when applied to data-centric architecture, but that’s after briefly explaining what’s wrong with the web and with enterprise IT, so three what’s wrong for the price of one.
And the last post about requirements may sound in praise of principles, so I should probably write about what’s wrong with principles. Spoiler: nothing if they a descriptive, but almost always they are prescriptive.
The above list is not the full “What’s wrong with” list, but just that part that made it to the blog. Otherwise, my “what’s wrong with” list is longer. It includes platitudes such as “you cannot manage what you cannot measure,” “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” influential averages like “per capita GDP” in economics or “personas” in design thinking, “Agile” and “SAFe,” “mental models” and many more. Some of them I have covered in Essential Balances, but only briefly, not to distract from the main focus of the book.
- 2In fact, the article that started this blog is also about that.