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February 28, 2015

BPGB: The Witch Hunt

For the next entry in the Best Practices Gone Bad series of posts, I have a topic I wish I had thought of.

In issue 125 of Overload magazine (Feb 2015), Sergey Ignatchenko wrote an article entitled Best Practices vs Witch Hunts. Sergey covers a somewhat different approach to how best practices go bad. He walks through a series of steps leading from identifying a practice that a few teams find useful, through declaration as a best practice, to an end point of applying the practice religiously without regard for whether it is appropriate.

One thing I don't think I have described well in my posts is the point that best practices are trade-offs, just like everything else we do in development. Since any best practice is really a rule of thumb that works in many, but not all circumstances, you can't enforce a best practice without thought. Sergey does a good job of getting this concept across in his article.

Many of the best practices gone bad that I've described (and more that I intend to) only become a problem when someone uses the practice in a place where it is not the best trade-off. Sergey covers how people can become zealots enforcing a best practice to the point that it becomes a BPGB. He also touches on the social aspects of this kind of failure. I definitely recommend the article.

Posted by GWade at February 28, 2015 10:25 PM. Email comments