My employer's principles aren't my values

A reader reminded me of Jeremy Keith’s eclectic collection of design principles.

Jeremy has loosely categorised principles from various sources, and the variety is eye-opening. Looking at this collection, it’s striking how this variety could be problematic in a single organisation. The values of an organisation and the design principles it abides by need to align.

Take the example of modularity. If your design principles favour holistic and bespoke approaches to content in the name of individuality and voice, modularity at the code level is going to be more of a challenge.

It’s not hard to spot a conflict in principles. They come up all the time. People have their own values, and sometimes these do not comport well with organisational principles. These tensions come out in meetings, code reviews, critique sessions, retrospectives and even in code itself.

Coming to a coherent set of agreed principles in a group of diverse value-holding individuals is a big challenge. But it’s important to come to an agreement or acceptance as early as possible. In small organisations this can probably be done with a quick discussion. In larger organisations, entire working groups spanning many quarters have been created in the name of resolving these issues.

If I’m honest, I’m yet to have seen anyone do this really well. Usually someone ends up quietly disenfranchised or disengaged because they feel they haven’t been heard.

So, have you come across a good way of addressing organisational principles and personal value in a coherent way that’s acceptable to a whole team? If so, reply and tell me about it.

All the best,

– Jim

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