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How completely messed up practices become normal.

Paul Crowley (@ciphergoth) posted a couple of interesting links on Twitter about the "normalisation of deviance" and organisational culture. The first was about the crash of a light aircraft that happened in Boston in 2014.  The report concluded that the pilots omitted every safety check they should have performed before take-off, and even when they realised there was a problem they did not abandon the take-off attempt.  As a result, they and their passengers were all killed.

What is interesting about the article is the investigation into the culture of the company.  It seems that pilots never performed these safety checks.   The proper process was seen as an annoying waste of time.  We see this in our own industry as well and I was thinking of posting something about the tendency to skip proper sign-offs in a project process.

Fortunately, Paul saved me the effort by linking to a much longer blog post by Dan Luu, with the title How Completely Messed Up Practices Become Normal.  It's a fascinating look at some of the weird practices Dan has encountered in his career and at how organisations come to regard their practices as "normal".  He gives examples from open source projects and big companies.  I really recommend that everyone working in IT reads this and has a think about how we can make our own organisations more aware, both of our odd practices and of what the best organisations are doing instead.


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