Cognitive biases in enterprise IT

I have a theory that almost all inefficiencies, problems, or destructive behaviorisms in enterprise IT settings can be classified and connected to some type of cognitive bias. I realized this as I was reading through "Cognitive Biases - A Visual Study Guide". At a macro level you can easily see how these apply. Things like:

  • The Consultation Paradox, and how it baffles you that your advice is ignored but when a consultant comes it and says the same thing, it's take up like no one has recommended it before
  • How System Justification Effect causes infrastructure or development teams to maintain the status quo rather than modernize, seek improvements, adapt to needs of others, etc.
  • How the False Consensus Effect causes you to over-estimate how much change you think you've influenced but haven't (and you're surprised when you find an island of teams who completely disagree with what change you're trying to make)
  • When you try an new technique to speed up a deployment but it has a bug, and the Negatively Bias causes people to irrationally recommend against improvements for a period of time (related to Von Restorff effect as well)

There's classifications for biases you knew existed but never knew they had a proper name. Read through them yourself and I bet you can think of an example scenario for each bias if you've worked in enterprise IT long enough.

I even see some of my own work-place behaviors couched in some of these cognitive biases. Understanding each one and being conscious of them might help to avoid the error.

Now, how to remember each bias, recognize when they present themselves, and defuse or counter-act them, that's the hard part.

A way of many ways to gauge continuous integration maturity

In an enterprise setting, for those involved with pushing your organization to adopt continuous integration and strive for continuous delivery, you're familiar with the obstacle filled trail you have to take (keep your head up; the fruits of change are rewarding).

As you watch other teams pick up CI, you hear them talk about where they are in their journey, and when they ask you "Am I getting close to good CI maturity?" (no one actually says it that way BTW), you can say, "You know you're doing it right when your continuous integration bottleneck isn't an manual organizational delay anymore but instead you find yourself improving technical bottlenecks like: how long it takes to bootstrap chef on a fresh VM, the time it takes to spin up a VM on OpenStack, or the duration of running test cases, code coverage, static code analysis, etc."


Blogging about technology at Target Corporation

I think most people know this, but I write technology career oriented blog posts for Target Corporation's "Pulse" blog. I've been doing it for over a year and I actually enjoy it because I'm given the freedom to talk openly about the technology work we do at Target (I'm especially proud to talk about the things I'm personally involved with and work on). In return it gives Target an opportunity to highlight its increasingly visible technical brand.

If you haven't read any before, you can read my posts here: https://pulse.target.com/author/dan/