Square Pegs, Round Holes, and Silver Bullets
Blog: Form Follows Function
People like easy answers.
Why spend time analyzing and evaluating when you can just take some thing or some technique that someone else has already put to use and be done with it?
I mean, “me too” is a valid strategy, right?
Oh @abscond, I’ve seen oodles of blockchain / AI / big data “me too” projects in large orgs with no situational awareness (even user needs)
(@swardley) March 21, 2017
And we don’t want people to get off message, right?
“What makes an experience compelling?” says a software company’s sales person whilst presenting a pre-canned set of slides…
Matt Ballantine (@ballantine70) March 21, 2017
And we can always find a low cost, minimal disruption way of dealing with issues, right?
Why didn’t we think of that? https://t.co/gTOB47YdBH
You Had One Job (@_youhadonejob1) March 24, 2017
I mean, after all, we’ve got data and algorithms, and stuff:
The thing is, actions need to make sense in context. Striking a match is probably a good idea in the dark, but it’s probably less so in daylight. In the presence of gasoline fumes, it’s a bad idea regardless of ambient light.
A recent post on Medium, “Design Sprints Are Snake Oil” is a good example. Erika Hall’s title was a bit click-baitish, but as she responded to one commenter:
The point is that the original snake oil was legitimate and effective. It ended up with a bad reputation from copycats who over-promised results under the same name while missing the essential ingredients.
Sprints are legitimate and effective. And now there is a lot of follow-up hype treating them as a panacea and a replacement for other types of work.
Good things (techniques, technologies, strategies, etc.) are “good”, not because they are innately right, but because they fit the context of the situation at hand. Those that don’t fit, cease being “good” for that very reason. Form absent function is just a facade. Whether it’s business strategy, management technique, innovation efforts, or process, there is no recipe. The hard work to match the action with the context has to be done.
Imitation might be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s a really poor substitute for strategy.