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Digests » 73
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It’s worth talking about the downside of going too far with structural thinking as it pertains to teams and organizations. Let’s take a common area where this structural approach happens, namely that of organizational structures and interactions.
“This part of the codebase doesn’t feel right!” This was Dave, your colleague developer, arguing in another never-ending meeting to rewrite a part of your company’s codebase. His arguments? Technical debt, high entropy, and the fear of the legacy system.
In a workplace that provides services to clients at very sad and stressful points in their lives, there live two cats named Jean and Jorts. Jean is a clever tortoiseshell cat, while Jorts gets himself into a multitude of predicaments (falling in trash cans, getting himself stuck in closets, etc.) and happens to be orange (this is important later!). Jean often helps Jorts out of his predicaments.
Here’s a team. Someone leaves. We hire a replacement. We get lucky and manage to find someone more skilled. Looks like we’re better off?
Mental model is a somewhat overloaded term, but roughly means having a structured view on a given topic. This structured view allows you to predict how changes will propagate across the entire problem, and allows you to rapidly prove or disprove your current perspective on a topic.