What’s wrong with…?

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…

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.

One thought on “What’s wrong with…?

  1. The concept of efficiency interests me.

    Suppose we humans or indeed any animal were super efficient in how we digest food. We would use nearly every atom of food and the only excrescences would be heat and gasses from our lungs and digestive systems.

    This sounds very efficient indeed except plants rely on animals (and insects and fungi etc) for the breakdown of plant matter into a form that can easily be assimilated by said plants eg excrement. If plants were not eaten or grazed by various life forms then the dead plant matter would very slowly decompose and maybe plants might be stifled by heaps of dead plant matter?

    So it could be said that efficiency can be deleterious in certain circumstances. Could this be applied to various systems.

    I know my thought experiment is very crude and probably much of it is wrong but it’s an interesting approach to the concept of efficiency.

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