Beating a Dead Horse

January 26th, 2007

Post from the extreme programming mailing list yesterday:

Dakota tribal wisdom says that when you discover you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount. However, in business we often try other strategies with dead horses, including the following:

  • Buying a stronger whip.
  • Changing riders.
  • Say things like, “This is the way we have always ridden this horse.”
  • Appointing a committee to study the horse.
  • Arranging to visit other sites to see how they ride dead horses.
  • Increasing the standards to ride dead horses.
  • Appointing a tiger team to revive the dead horse.
  • Creating a training session to increase our riding ability.
  • Comparing the state of dead horses in todays environment.
  • Change the requirements declaring that “This horse is not dead.”
  • Hire contractors to ride the dead horse.
  • Harnessing several dead horses together for increased speed.
  • Declaring that “No horse is too dead to beat.”
  • Providing additional funding to increase the horse’s performance.
  • Do a Cost Analysis study to see if contractors can ride it cheaper.
  • Purchase a product to make dead horses run faster.
  • Declare the horse is “better, faster and cheaper” dead.
  • Form a quality circle to find uses for dead horses.
  • Revisit the performance requirements for horses.
  • Say this horse was procured with cost as an independent variable.
  • Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position.

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3 Responses to “Beating a Dead Horse”

Markus Zywitza Says:

The problem is that when programmers try to dismount a dead horse, they don’t plan to ride another horse next, but think about trying out a goat, sheep, cow, or reindeer, although they know that a horse is perfectly good for the job they need.

Dismounting the dead horse therefore often means doing The Big Rewrite which is even worse…

hammett Says:

Agreed, Markus.

Todd Werth Says:

Ok, you made my Saturday morning. So true, so sad, so funny.

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