On broken windows and broken understanding

A nice article on DZone made a mention of “broken windows” which is where i boarded my flight of fancy today.

It linked to another great article, and as usual, I scrolled down to read the comments. An informed reader had commented that “broken windows” was a contentious issue, dealt with in this article by PBS “that takes a large share of the blame for the large rifts between poor communities and the police that patrol them”.

After reading the article, I was struck by how this is exactly what has happened with the “agile” methodology in Information Technology orgs, (and, going back thousands of years, to spirituality at the hands of religion, but that’s another plane of thought).

Here’s the gist of this oft-repeated story:

  • A person or group of people with presence and intentionality “do” X and produce amazing results.
  • The story travels far and wide, and others want to recreate those results. They look at the actions that were taken, or the words that were spoken, by the originator, and parrot them. Badly.
  • No presence, no understanding. No results.
  • Studies are published that “X” is worthless.

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