Magical Thinking

Fred Brooks wrote "No Silver Bullet" in 1987, an essay on intractability of complexity and impact of skill in software development.   Brooks advocated the now insane and offensive idea that skill is more important than race or gender or shoe size.  In his world, a silver bullet (The Perfect Solution)

Fred Brooks wrote "No Silver Bullet" in 1987, an essay on intractability of complexity and impact of skill in software development.   Brooks advocated the now insane and offensive idea that skill is more important than race or gender or shoe size.  In his world, a silver bullet (The Perfect Solution) was magical thinking and people love to indulge in magical thinking because it's easy and simple (although it usually ends in failure).

An interviewer asked if I'd written a "trading platform".  I asked if he thought a "trading platform" had some magical innards which I hadn't already coded a dozen times elsewhere, and he was finished with me.  But the conversation stuck in my mind and I eventually realized that HE had no idea about a "trading platform".  It was a magical phrase to vet applicants and shield him from knowing specifics.  

The most popular magical thinking in today is "diversity".   That diversity imbues magical power for greater productivity, quality, marketability.   A manager need only sprinkle a little diversity pixie dust onto their team and presto, no hard work, skill or insight is necessary!  

The job ads are packed with diversity testimonials but I must confess...   my most dysfunctional teams were diverse... people with their own agendas, with different concepts of honesty or authority, different work ethics, perceptions of time, terminologies and priorities.  My most successful teams had common goals, a common language, a common morality.  

But that's not cool and hip these days.   Diversity is a proxy for complexity.  Would you feel comfortable buying the "most complex car ever made"?  

I didn't think so.  

Magical thinking reigns supreme for now.  And that's a factor that Fred Brooks never considered.   :)

Recent Posts

Flickr Stream

Text Widget

Aliquam eget arcu nec nisl imperdiet semper mollis sit amet tortor. Ut ultrices pharetra urna id cursus. Aenean ligula dolor, mollis id eros id, hendrerit malesuada nisi. Suspendisse et pellentesque est. In lobortis velit nec diam sodales, vel gravida nibh porta. Curabitur faucibus lacus ac tellus faucibus posuere. Nam lobortis