Copy-Paste Reasoning (or Adapt, Skip Adopt)

I have a bit of trouble with people adopting other people's opinions and arguments without adapting them where needed. Some people don't analyze a situation before applying their copied ideas. And worse than that: some people tell others that they are wrong, without bothering to investigate if their copied arguments actually hold within an unknown context.

I call it copy-paste reasoning.

Examples?

"You shouldn't do fixed price, fixed scope contracts, because…"
Fine, but that doesn't help me if that's the only thing my biggest customer wants.

"Big up-front requirements are wrong, because…"
I know, but my customer just handed me a 200 page requirements study and he pays me to implement it.

"Teams must be cross-functional, with all roles represented in the team, because…"
Sure, but the customer contracted another party for front-end design, on the other side of the country.

"You have to do iterations of four weeks each, because…"
Right, but that doesn't help me much if my project only lasts for three weeks, does it?

"You're wrong when your people carry out evaluations with on-line forms, because…"
Wow, are you psychic? Are you able to understand our people from the other side of the ocean?

I appreciate any kind of advice from any source, including advice that doesn't translate well to our context. It is an opportunity to learn and to understand how our situation compares to, and differs from, the world outside.

Context Matters, Always
Despite popular scientific terminology, there is no such thing as a "bad gene" or a "good gene". The effects of genes on an organism is context-dependent. It depends on the other genes and on the environment. Even the most malicious genes can turn out to be beneficial to some organisms in some environments.

Likewise, software development practices are always context-dependent. You cannot tell someone else what to do, without understanding their context. Even if you're 95% right, people will only be digging their heels deeper when you don't acknowledge that their situation is slightly different.

Adapt, Skip Adopt
I am in favor of doing things the agile way. However, sometimes the adopt-adapt sequence doesn't work. Sometimes you have to go straight for adaptation, because adoption of the practice straight from the book is impossible.

Sometimes people tell others that they are wrong when they skip adoption and go straight for adaptation. But they are wrong! They are using Copy-Paste reasoning.

That's why I suggest that you use only Copy-Paste Special
and then carefully select your options!

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