Why Weakened Dev Teams Suffer From NIH Syndrome

(NIH = Not Invented Here)

So here’s the situation. Product Management says feature X must be built. Development scopes the feature and discovers that the “right” solution involves using code developed elsewhere. But unfortunately, the other team’s code uses different assumptions and will take some extra time to shoehorn into the new context. In other words, the right solution is too costly.

If a development team doesn’t have an architect who can advocate for the right solution based on first principles, then it uses the tried-and-true scope/schedule/resources lever (about its only negotiating tool) to push back.

The problem is that in this scenario, product management isn’t really forced to come to terms with the long term strategic consequences of doing things wrong. So the scope is adjusted, or the schedule is adjusted, or the resources are adjusted — but only enough to rescue the feature, not enough to do it right.

As a result, dev has to invent a half-baked alternative to the other team’s solution. Ad nauseum.

We look at the dev team and say that they have “Not Invented Here” Syndrome, because they never seem to use the solutions that other teams have built. In many cases, the real problem is that the Product Management and Dev don’t have an architect mediating and looking at the situation from the standpoint of maximizing the ROI of strategic technology investments.

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