Why consistency is overrated

I’ve recently had a number of discussions with various different people around consistency.

There a few really good reasons why you should be consistent in your development approach. Being able to pick-up a code-base and understand where the tests are, where external libs are storedreference and how to build and run are fundamental when you work on more than one project. In a similar way, being consistent with setting, both application and keyboard (ReSharper) can increase productivity when working with a team as it makes it easier to share the code and pair at different machines. Having a standard and a foundation gives you the base to improve and learn from. Toyota have said “standardized tasks are the foundation for continuous improvement and employee empowerment” Wikipedia.

However, this brings about another problem. If you are continuously improving, what happens to consistency?

Many moons ago, we were all writing our data access logic using Ado.net and code-generated ORMs. Thankfully today we have NHIbernate. We have taken a standard, improved and progressed beyond it to create a new standard. This is why consistency is overrated. If we were consistent, we would had kept making the same mistakes for the sake of being consistent. The same can be said for unit testing frameworks, languages and even project structurescoding style.

However, in software many people forget the improve and progress part once a standard has been set.  We sacrifice improved productivity and adding value to the business to maintain the status quo. How many developers would push the use of frameworks like OpenRasta instead of just going with ASP.Net MVC because they did ASP.net webforms before – even when OpenRasta provides a much better solution to their problem. Or use WCF because “we are a Microsoft shop”, hence must be consistent and use the Microsoft stack.

Get a grip.

Forget consistency. Instead, focus on what makes you productive, what provides value and what makes doing your job easier. If there is a better way, do it and break free from the status quo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *