Beyond labelling

Project management is bad, product management is good. Estimates are bad, forecasts are good. Management is bad, leadership is good. MBAs are bad, MFAs are good. This is agile, that is not. This is lean, that is not.

Such focus on labelling and promoting one idea at the expense of another does not give me much these days. Instead, I am much more interested in learning about different schools of thoughts, hearing nuanced perspectives, and understanding in which context and for which purpose different traditions developed.

I am much more interested in attempts of integration, such as Jesse James Garret’s The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web and Beyond and Milan Guenther’s Intersection: How Enterprise Design Bridges the Gap Between Business, Technology and People, than any attempts of establishing one tradition’s superiority over all others.

This is also true for topics beyond technology, and perhaps even more important there.

We need all the help we can get if we want to deal successfully with the big and small challenges we are facing today. This means selecting our tools wisely and not rejecting potentially useful tools because of their origin or any label they may carry.

The Oath of Non-Allegiance promotes a similar view. I begin to wonder whether signatories (myself included) should be required to re-read it, reflect on it, an re-sign it if they still believe in it every quarter or so.


2 thoughts on “Beyond labelling

  1. Gene Hughson

    Agreed. Even given a specific context, I’m reluctant to give much weight to a qualitative judgement without evidence of why it applies. A universal pronouncement of “good” or “bad” is just all the more suspect.

  2. Oliver Baier Post author

    Thanks, Gene. I’ve been simplifying, obviously, but many discussions seem to be going down that route. A description of when a favoured technique was useful (context & purpose, again) and some thoughts on why that might have been can be basis for a fruitful discussion. Or when another technique was unsuccessful, again with some thoughts on why that might have been.

    Tools and techniques developed by different traditions are path-dependent, so learning about that path and related context can be useful. Which tools and techniques will be useful in my specific situation is also highly dependent on that situation (context & purpose, once more), including the path I took to get there.

    I’ve touched on this from a different perspective here:


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