3

I have the feeling that many people tend to turn to a new software instead of trying to master the one available. I am not saying that existing software should not be discarded if it lacks features. But I feel there is a trend like "the grass is greener with new_gadget_name".

E.g.: there is an intranet. Someone finds out, that wikis are cool (and they are), so a wiki is introduced. Due to bad support or communication (or the will of someone higher up), the wiki never manages to completely replace the intranet, although it does grow daily. Now you have both worlds. Then one day you find out that another department has started using OneNote or Evernote for collaborative work, while there are less progressive people still keeping project notes in spreadsheets, textdocs and slides all over the fileserver.

I know that different people have different preferences for tools and there is no "one tool to rule them all". But for comprehensive documentation (and I do not just mean specifications and manuals), I believe there should be a fixed set valid for all.

Is this behavior an anti-pattern and does it have a name? - or am I just too square on this topic (please be kind in the comments)?

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  • A comment when downvoting would be great
    – Roland
    Jun 4 at 7:11
  • 1
    The current close vote reason is for "Opinion based", so I guess that's the reasoning behind the downvote here.
    – user124851
    Jun 4 at 8:03
  • 1
    Company dependent question, I haven't noticed this at all. There is usually inertia against anything new.
    – Kilisi
    Jun 4 at 8:10
  • @Kilisi not really company specific, this situation can happen in any company.
    – user124851
    Jun 4 at 8:21
  • The question is not about which of the two (new or old tools) is better, but if there is a word for this behavior of "early-adoption in the hope for solving our troubles". I am thinking in the direction of the cognitive biases like pro-innovation, salience or recency
    – Roland
    Jun 4 at 8:41
5

This problem plagues app development and app startups.

I think it's clever the OP is asking if there's a term for this, a business slang.

Language is reality, and once you can name something it becomes easier to deal with the concept. This is the reason society generates terms for things in business and elsewhere, zillions of new terms as the need arises (yuppies, memes, the list goes on forever; there are endless specialist terms just within software, terms like "heisenbug" are generated when needed, there are 100s of examples)

I propose some,

  • early maladopter

playing on "early adopter"

  • spaghetti architecture

it's as bad as spaghetti coding, but at the choosing-systems level.

  • corporate ADD

the corporation as an organism suffers attention deficit disorder.

  • resume driven development

from the excellent suggestion by @MatthewGaiser


anyone who thinks of a good one, put it in here

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  • 1
    resume driven development is f**king epic, if I may.
    – Levente
    Jun 4 at 20:07
  • 2
    I've used the term "spaghetti warehouse". Jun 4 at 21:03
  • Thanks for this. All 4 are surely candidates for being a prerequisite or cause of the phenomenon.
    – Roland
    Jul 3 at 22:04
  • Another influence may be the Shiny Object Syndrome en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/….
    – Roland
    Aug 10 at 8:34
  • I guess "Spaghetti Warehouse" describes the situation best.Joel Etherton, did you coin that? I only found links to a restaurant chain.
    – Roland
    Aug 12 at 20:07
3

Resume building?

Whether it be performance reviews, promotions, or getting new jobs, people want to see "initiative" and "measurable achievements." That is what a lot of this is about, speaking as someone who has done exactly this.

Fixing up the wiki gets me nothing. It is an undesirable task that few would notice and would get me minimal points. "Built a new wiki" or "managed company wiki setup" is a far better thing to have on the resume.

I once automated a process that took 5 minutes a month and spent a week and a half doing it, along with the time of many other people. The stated reason was that people were forgetting to do it, which could have been solved by a calendar note. The systems also didn't do anything all that important, so if it was missed for a week, it did not matter. The business ROI on this was horrific. It will not be made back in my lifetime, or arguably even 100 years.

But I couldn't claim setting a calendar invite as a win. Building a system with a lot of AWS buzzwords? Absolutely.

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  • 1
    great suggestion! I have put a variant in my Omnibus Answer. I literally already used your suggestion with a team, @MatthewGaiser !
    – Fattie
    Jun 4 at 13:05
  • This is very interesting, as it takes a different perspective than mine, but it may be only one reason of many
    – Roland
    Jul 3 at 18:20
2

The author Evgeny Mozorov coined the term "solutionism" for the (in his eyes) mistaken belief that every problem can solved by (better) technology.

1
  • Oh, this is close, I guess, and it reminds me of Neil Postman's thoughts in Technopoly.
    – Roland
    Jul 3 at 18:05
1

It's just human behaviour at play.

There's two basic behaviours at play here, mildly conflicting with each other.

  1. People looking at what other teams/companies are using and seeking to find tools that allow them to work more efficiently than before. For my company, we've moved away from using Skype/Yammer over to Teams. At one time, I had about 5 different chat clients on my work laptop that I had to keep track of.

  2. People feel comfortable with what they know and get used to certain tools. Using new tools requires relearning and a shift in the way that people work, and people do resist change.

The negative effects of this conflict really depends on the situation and the impact on the efficiency of the team/company as a whole.

2
  • That is true. But migrating to new tools has a cost (not only license fees, but within the organisation) which is often ignored. Then again, support and monitoring has, too.
    – Roland
    Jun 4 at 8:36
  • 1
    Software licensing pales into insignificance when compared to the cost of employing human beings. If buying a software tool can increase productivity by even a couple of percent then it will pay for itself.
    – numenor
    Jun 4 at 9:13

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