When systems(thinkers) collide

When I come across a great thinker that opens my eyes to new ideas I always try to look for errors in their reasoning. The obvious reason to do this is as a safeguard against being carried away by new ideas that are intuitively right but actually wrong. A second reason for this scrutiny is a guiding principle of mine. If I am unable to find anything wrong in someone’s thinking it is a sure sign that I am becoming dogmatic. So when two people I greatly respect started arguing, I saw this as a good thing. Simple logic told me that at least one of them would be wrong

5 whys and 3 because

The practice of “5 whys” is a popular lean approach to root cause analysis. It can be overly simplistic in some situations but few people would question the virtue of trying to figure out the real causes of a problem as opposed to just treating the symptoms. You can visualize 5 whys as a timeline where the problem you are trying to solve is (in most cases) a recent event and the sequence of causes and effects that led to this event are points on the timeline behind it. The root cause is often something that is up to 5 points back on the timeline, hence the name…

Standardized work versus checklists

Atul Gawande has written a fascinating book called The Checklist Manifesto. The core message in this book is that many professions have advanced to an unprecedented level of sophistication and complexity. The main obstacle in getting optimal results is increasingly the practitioners ability to remember which things to do and when to do them. Atul proposes a simple but effective tool to alleviate this problem: checklists. The idea is of course not new, people have been writing checklists for ages. What makes the book interesting is Atul’s journey through a number of professions in search of insights into how to create useful checklists. The difference between a good checklist and

Three perspectives on better software

The agile perspective When the agile manifesto was published a decade ago I welcomed it. I had been building applications for a decade pretty much according to the principles in the manifesto. During this period I had watched in horror as RUP quickly became a de-facto standard. It was such a derailment of the agile ideas that had started to get momentum in the early nineties. For me the agile manifesto was primarily a wake-up call to developers to get them back to the roots of how you build software systems in an optimal way.