Master plans 21 Feb 2016
I was watching an old OOPSLA talk by Guy Steele this weekend about growing programming languages. In the talk he shares a quote from Christopher Alexander:

Master plans have two additional unhealthy characteristics. To begin with, the existence of a master plan alienates the users…

After all, the very existence of a master plan means, by definition, that the members of the community can have little impact on the future shape of their community, because most of the important decisions have already been made. In a sense, under a master plan people are living with a frozen future, able to affect only relatively trivial details.

When people lose the sense of responsibility for the environment they live in, and realize that they are merely cogs in someone else’s machine, how can they feel any sense of identification with the community, or any sense of purpose there?

– Christopher Alexander, The Oregon Experiment

Guy was applying Alexander’s thinking as a way to think about growing a programming language. It makes for an interesting thought experiment to apply it to team and company growth as well.

blog comments powered by Disqus