12 days ago

Form Follows Function on SPaMCast 467

It’s time for another appearance on Tom Cagley’s Software Process and Measurement (SPaMCast) podcast. This week’s episode, number 467, features Tom’s excellent essay on value (value is one of those simple-seeming, but complex concepts). Jeremy Berriault‘s QA corner covers testing in difficult circumstances. I bat cleanup with a Form Follows Function segment discussing my post […]

3 months, 6 days ago

Systems Thinking Complicates Things

  I’ve had the honor and pleasure of appearing as a regular on Tom Cagley‘s SPaMCast podcast for almost three years now. Before I write one of my “Form Follows Function on SPaMCast x” posts, I always listen to the podcast to make sure that the summary is right (the implication being, relying purely on […]

4 months, 6 days ago

Management, Simple and Wrong – Semantics, Systems, and Self-Correction

Simple responses to complex situations are both seductive and dangerous. The difficulty in juggling lots of variables tempts us to employ abstraction so as to avoid being overwhelmed. Abraham Maslow’s observation, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail”, applies. […]

7 months, 22 days ago

Square Pegs, Round Holes, and Silver Bullets

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? Why indeed? I mean, “me too” is a valid strategy, right? And we don’t want people to get off message, right? And […]

11 months, 4 days ago

Ordinary Things

One of the side effects of illness and injury (in my case a slipped disk) can be that your world becomes smaller. You don’t travel for your work. Your chance of being somewhere new is small. You move more slowly and aren’t up to long trips. It’s not feasible to go to all those special places, where […]

1 year, 10 months ago

Form Follows Function on SPaMCast 373

This week’s episode of Tom Cagley’s Software Process and Measurement (SPaMCast) podcast, number 373, features Tom’s essay on #NotImplementedNoValue and a Form Follows Function installment on simplistic mental models. Tom and I discuss my post “All models may be wrong, but it’s not a contest to see how wrong you can be”, talking about cognitive […]

1 year, 11 months ago

All models may be wrong, but it’s not a contest to see how wrong you can be

The one thing you can be sure of is that nothing is dependent on only one thing. Michael Feathers‘ tweet last week brought this to mind: Too often we construct simplistic mental models that fail to account for outcomes that are possible, but inconvenient for us in some way. As Aneel noted while discussing OODA […]

5 years, 2 months ago

The Complicated Complexity Confusion Principle Complexity is an…

The Complicated Complexity Confusion Principle

Complexity is an objective quality of the real world. Complexity expresses itself in the wonderful behaviour of systems.

Complicated is a psycho-social phenomenon. It is a missmatch between the complexity of the world and our ability to understand and control it. Complications express themselves as confusion. 

Confusing the two is the anti-pattern. It expresses itself in two ways.

  1. As an attempt to lower complication by reducing complexity. So reducing the functionality of the system. 
  2. As an attempt to reduce complexity by simplifying its human representation. So creating a potentially dangerous ignorance of the system. This version is sometimes called Magical Simplification.