Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

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The Costs of Checks

I commend to all this fine article, The Other Half of "Artists Ship". It's making a point particular to the software industry - that if you acquire a small company and then impose regulations on it, you'll drive out the best people.

But along the way, it makes a more general point, that's worthwhile for everyone to keep in mind, "Every check has a cost". That is, whenever you impose regulations to make things "safer", you impose all sorts of process costs, and those costs are often far greater than they look at first glance. He gives a couple of good examples (Sarbanes-Oxley, and the reason why it's hard to find software costing between $1000 and $50k); I'm sure we could collectively come up with many more if we spent a little time on it. The Law of Unintended Consequences is particularly harsh when it comes to regulation.

So if you find yourself in a position of authority - *any* position of authority - and find yourself tempted to impose checks on the processes around you, pause and think about it. Yes, checks are sometimes strictly necessary, and more often helpful. But try to understand the costs you are imposing alongside them, as well as the cost of buying into the "it's just one more *little* burden" mentality when all of those burdens get added up...
Tags: programming, society

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