Sunday, September 02, 2012

Cargo Cult IT

In a Cargo Cult, practitioners slavishly imitate the superficial behaviours of a more advanced culture in the hope that they will receive the benefits of that more advanced culture.

I'm seeing signs that Cargo Cult behaviour is becoming prevalent in IT. Some examples that come to mind are agile, cloud, and devops.

This isn't to say that these technologies are inherently flawed. Rather, just as in the true Cargo Cults, adherents completely miss the point and hope to reap the benefits of a technology by blindly applying its superficial manifestations in formulaic fashion.

Let's be absolutely clear - many advanced organizations are using agile, cloud, devops, and other technologies to great effect. The problem comes when more primitive societies merely emulate the formalism without any clear understanding of the reasons behind it - or even an acceptance that there are underlying reasons.

Slavishly imitating the behavioural patterns of a more successful organization is unlikely to lead to a successful outcome. Rather, understanding your own organization's problems and then understanding how other organizations have attacked theirs, and why they have adopted the solutions they have, will allow progress.

Of course, there are other cults that are simply false. I'm tempted to drop ITIL and ISO9000 straight into that bucket.

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