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Accidental Complexity

“All software-intensive systems have to handle essential complexity (user needs). Everything else is accidental complexity that slows down the system.”

Sidu Ponnappa

Bad decisions add cognitive load to the organization without providing value to the user. Examples include:

  • Bad HR policies.
  • A business leader within the organization wants the website or app of his business unit to look different. The user does not care.
  • Building a confused organization structure/hierarchy. The user does not care. For example, the Twitter Fail Whale image had birds flying in different directions.
  • Choosing a sub-optimal stack because developers in that stack are more cost-effective to hire.
  • Building a low-trust work environment

“Low margin businesses (eg many media biz) often create an internal culture of ‘survival of the fittest’, where different divisions compete, viciously, to eke out another 0.5% profit. Makes digital transformation even harder…”

Alex Watson, Ex Head of Product at BBC.

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