4 Witty Names for Overdoing Things Upfront, and How Much Is “Lagom”?

“We’ve many names for the things we love” is a proverbial phrase (its Swedish equivalent basically swaps “things” for “child”). Which in turn makes me wonder if human nature loves overdoing the upfront spadework and sometimes even prefers it to making things take shape. Contrary to what IT-people tend to believe, IT is not alone in the overdoing trap.

1. Analysis Paralysis
Is often IT-related in some way, but can actually occur even in financial analyses or big-data analytics with unclear objectives. Long story short: YAGNI (You Ain’t Gonna Need It), plus the problem domain changing as you go (and increasingly, being automated).

2. Researchitis
(Excessively researching the background of things,) is common in journalism and other writing professions. In the age of search engines however, it tends to precede most things we do.

3. Blankscreenophobia  
(Fear of a new blank page on the screen,) is both a sequel and an aggravator of number 1. or 2.

4. Writer’s Block
(In Sweden called write-cramp). To extend from writing to drawing, coding, and other tasks: “Brainslump” fits most kinds of work, but has a shorter duration than writer’s block.

Then, how much upfront work is “lagom” (the Swedish for just right, just large enough, sufficient, adequate, not too little not too much)?
The time spent upfront shall be worth less than the benefit it brings about (as our Architecture and Agile Modeling courses point out, see diagram). Estimating that benefit implies some insight into the needs of the recipients/users: do they want it comprehensive - or rather comprehensible, up to date, in sync, and informative? How can it facilitate their work and decisions?

Summing up
Both in Agile and elsewhere, there’s a fine line between unnecessary overhead upfront and building upon the sand. Neither modeling, nor architecture (IT, SW, Product, Enterprise), nor other high-skill work is exempt from the tradeoff.

Trainer at Informator, senior modeling and architecture consultant at Kiseldalen.com

main author : UML Extra Light (Cambridge University Press) and Growing Modular (Springer),
Advanced UML2 Professional (OCUP cert level 3/3). 

Milan and Informator collaborate since 1996 on architecture, modelling, UML, requirements, analysis and design. In the next few months, you can meet him at Architecture ( T1101 , T1430, in English or Swedish) or Modeling courses ( T2715T2716 , mainly in Swedish).

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