(Spotify) Models are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise

Apparently, either WW1 fighter ace Harry Day or WW2 fighter ace Douglas Bader said the following (I originally saw this attributed to David Ogilvy in the book Decision Traps):

“Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men”

OR

“Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the obedience of fools.”

I’m going to replace “rules” with “model” and remove the unnecessary gender-specificity.

Models are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of the wise

A fool reads a case study and/or watches a video, maybe two, and thinks:

  • This must be a utopia!
  • If I just copy this, then my workplace will also be a utopia!
  • If I just copy this and then my workplace doesn’t turn into a utopia, then it must be that the model doesn’t work.
  • If I join the company this case study is about and it’s not a utopia, then it must all be lies!

A wise person reads a case study and/or watches a video, maybe two, and thinks:

  • What problem are they solving? What forces are they considering?
  • These patterns seem similar to others I’m aware of or have applied myself.
  • These patterns are different and may be interesting to experiment with.
  • I’d expect that if we tried this, we’d have to modify it for our context.
  • I’d expect that if I looked more closely, or even joined this company, that it won’t be a utopia but they might be headed in the right direction.

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Jason Yip

Extreme Programming, Agile, Lean guy. Ex-Spotify, ex-ThoughtWorks, ex-CruiseControl