Once there was a carpenter who thought his apprentices weren’t smart enough to use hammers properly. So even though he’d buy the best tools on the market:


… he’d then forbid the use of certain “unsafe” features, leaving his apprentices with this: hammer 2

Naturally, productivity was way lower than expected. And that only reinforced the idea that his apprentices were dumber than average.

Eventually, the carpenter went out of business.

Does that story sound too silly to be true?

If so, congratulations! You’ve never worked in an IT department where:

  • the use of Java lambda expressions was forbidden because “my developers aren’t smart enough”
  • the use of Mediatr was refused because “my developers are used to the Repository pattern; they won’t understand how this works”
  • the creation of new task types in JIRA was locked down because “people are creating too many types”

I call this the “safe hammer anti-pattern”: when higher-ups put rules and restrictions on how teams use the tools of their trade. It ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy: the best people leave because they detest such condescending attitudes, and that only leaves people too apathetic to make a difference.

This is an anti-pattern that young parents will recognize… we want our kids to be safe, but if we overdo it, our kids will be left incapable of dealing with the world by themselves. The key is trust, training, and creating a safe environment for trial and error.

Bottom line: instead of mandating how your teams should use a certain tool, focus on training and good communication.