The Curse of a Name: How to Kill a Good Idea

What do the following have in common?

  • Agile Software Development
  • Six Sigma
  • Behavior Driven Development
  • Software Craftsmanship
  • DevOps

Each of these represents a good idea that a group of well-meaning people tried (and succeeded) to spread into the world.

Each is generally poorly defined and poorly understood.

Each term has now lost its meaning.

Each term, with new watered-down, wrong-headed interpretations is being used constantly to create a false sense of security and justification for bad practices.

In each case, adoption of a good idea is being accidentally replaced by adoption of a name which represents that good idea. The term becomes a placeholder for good intention.

I can “do BDD” in the same way that I can sign up for a membership at a gym. I feel the sense of accomplishment without the need to actually get healthy.

Originally published at on November 25, 2014.

I help startups succeed. CTO, speaker, author, investor — currently @microsoft @blueyard