The Principle of Addition

Sep 3rd, 2002 by Tony in QSM1

Everything you have ever known is stored somewhere in your brain, so you can never eliminate mental models, you can only add to them. That’s why this book is based on the Principle of Addition:

The best way to reduce ineffective behavior is by adding more effective behavior

That’s ultimately the way organizations move from one pattern to another. As they add more effective models, they find them used more and more, and this simply leaves less opportunity for the ineffective ones to be used. Organizations get addicted to certain practices that are harmful in the long run, but relieve their pain in the short run. The more the organizations do them, the worse they feel, and the more they seek the relief of their addictive practices.

If you find an organziationaddicted to some short-sighted intervention, you have to look for what rewards (explicit or implicity) are given for short-run success in this behavior. Then remove those if you can and supplement them with rewards that are tied to long-run success.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 1, Chapter 10

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