Does Your Framework Limit Your Thinking?

October 26, 2015 — Posted by Al Shalloway

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble, it's what you know for sure that just ain't so. Mark Twain

Doubt is uncomfortable, certainty is ridiculous. Voltaire.

Frameworks are very popular in software development.  They provide a quick basis for a leap ahead in learning and understanding.  Unfortunately, many consultants seem to promote their favorite frameworks as the answer to all ills*.  This often results in the framework becoming a solid starting point while limiting further advancement after initial success because no one looks beyond the framework.

This happens because a certain reverence is provided to the framework and the developers of the framework.  Ideas outside of the framework are not even noticed, let alone considered or looked for.  Even practices within the framework that could be useful but were not created by the framework creators are discarded out of hand because they do not have the aura of authenticity. 

While the framework may have started out as a positive foundation for further learning, it soon becomes a body of cargo cult knowledge.   A symptom of this is quick gains at the start with a stagnation that seems to hit most everyone else using the framework.   Unfortunately, because of the initial benefit and the aura of the framework, many folks believe that there is something that they are doing wrong and look to follow the framework even more, instead of whether they should extend or enhance the framework itself. They are not cognizant of the fact that while at the beginning, they may need to be told what to do, they outgrow that beginner stage.   As they move into competence and proficiency, they must start creating their own foundation.  Unfortunately, some frameworks do not provide the principles on which the framework is built or actually provide the wrong reasoning for its success.  For example, the primary reason for the effectiveness of Scrum is not self-organization but rather having a cross-functional team - see Why Scrum Works and How This Tells Us When It Won’t for more.

The cure?  Always challenge your beliefs.  Never adopt other people’s beliefs without understanding them yourself.  Know that frameworks or any ideas for that matter, are as useful as they are useful – they are not truths.   Don’t have them become dogma.

Al Shalloway

CEO, Net Objectives

* They claim not to do this, but never seem to tell you where their favorite method doesn’t work.

 

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About the author | Al Shalloway

Al Shalloway is the founder and CEO of Net Objectives. With over 40 years of experience, Alan is an industry thought leader in Lean, Kanban, product portfolio management, SAFe, Scrum and agile design.



        

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