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Red flag arguments

One of many things I care about is improving the world around me. That is why I’m a union representative, it’s one of the reasons why I like my job, and it’s why I raise questions to find out if there are good reasons for things being done the way they are – and to change them if there aren’t. Every so often, I’m met with arguments that aren’t really arguments at all, and which really should prompt a re-examination of the subject matter.

I classify these arguments as red flag arguments – here are some of them;

  • It is legal
  • It feels right
  • We’ve always done it like this
  • Everyone else does it

Now, don’t get me wrong; use of these arguments does not in and of itself mean that we’re on the wrong path – we may well be on the right path – it just means that we don’t know whether we’re doing it right or not. We should critically evaluate what we’re doing and argue the pros and cons of doing it the way we are. Perhaps even more importantly, we should find out if there are different, and better, ways of doing it.

These are not easy questions to answer, and it may be organizationally painful. Even so, we must ask them. Not necessarily all the time, but often enough so as to counteract entropy. In ITIL it falls under the heading of Continual Service Improvement. In DevOps it’s called the Improvement Kata.

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