Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"broken windows" theory

I've seen this "broken windows" theory pop up in multiple books now, so that's probably a good sign that i need to take it seriously. Unimportantly, i read it in a book called Pragmatic Programmers, and a second book called A Pentagon's New Map. They both talked about it, and applied it to technical problems and international security problems, respectively. More importantly, the theory is that if you leave a broken window on a building or car, then in short time it becomes a crimefest. The car gets stripped of all its parts, the building becomes vandalized, and eventually abandoned. Fixing a broken window prevents these much worse problems from happening. Therefore, it makes sense to put in the time and effort to fix small problems, because otherwise they are a catalyst for much bigger problems, so you're effectively preventing big problems by fixing seemingly unimportant ones.

This can be applied to any field really. For example, sometimes I tend to ignore bugs on my company website, unless they are big ones. This is because I would rather spend my time coding products, and not the website. However, applying the broken windows theory, it makes sense to take the time to fix the problems as they pop one.  These small unfixed problems have a psychological impact on people when they report bugs and the bug doesn't get fixed. It gives them a sense of despair, and they lose hope in the situation overall improving.

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