Monday, September 22, 2008

Half knowledge is worse than ignorance

I was discussing this with Praveen the other day. And he brought this interesting point. People would start learning something and then will leave midway (why?). Then, they are left with half knowledge. Now not only they would suffer from misusing it but will cause pain for many innocent victims too.

The problem Praveen mentioned was application of Design Patterns. This everyone agrees that patterns are grossly misapplied. And many times they create unwanted trouble instead of help. That's why Anti-Patterns where published. To warn people of they traps.

Lets generalize it here. Like Dilbert's boss, we will find many people who would start learning something new. Not because of need, but they want to use the jargon like others. Now they would loose the patience half way. Off course, any subject gets complicated after few chapters. Then it becomes a test of learning ability and patience. Which we know these kind of people lack. Now starts the massacre of technology. Such people will start with throwing the new jargon they picked...left and right. You will look for a corner where you can go and scream. Like Praveen said..."If you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail". So this monkey will now take the knife and will start cutting whatever comes its way.

I feel taming such people is the biggest challenge for managers. Not because they themselves suffer from this problem. I am talking about those who know that this is a problem and are technically sound too. (I have a manager like that. At least at the point of writing.)  Such people prove as liability than asset if part of design team.

How you deal with such people?

Caution. Never get into argument with such people. If you can not get rid of them, then only way is to help them improve. If you are their manager, enroll them to trainings. The money spent on their training will get justified by the bugs they will not be introducing. Which will improve others productive too. Now, if you are their peer or worse, their subordinate. Motivate them to learn. Throw advanced jargon so that curosity drives them to learn. If you have a manager like that, make presentations and involve them in discussions so that they get a better hang of things. Its not an easy job. But its your only chance that can save you from night outs. Fixing the design issues they brought in with their half knowledge.

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