And that’s why it’s so hard

…rules are code; they change the behavior of the system. Rules interact in ways that are hard to anticipate. It’s harder to write rules than to write code.

It seems like we make business decisions in terms of rules, because we talk about them that way.

People make uncomplicated decisions by rule. We make complicated decisions by aesthetic (from expertise), and these are difficult or impossible to express in rules.

If you think “Rules are declarative, they’re easier to reason about than imperative code” then go format a complicated web site with CSS. Make changes in the hundreds of lines of CSS, and see if you can predict the results. Now see if you can predict the results of changing someone else’s CSS.


This post really resonated with me, not because I’m a programmer who deals with CSS (thank goodness) but because maybe the only thing about managing people that seams easier is that you learn pretty much right away that there’s no generic thing that works for everyone. There’s no rules engine you can follow. Few decisions are simple and all decision making comes from expertise.

Jessie’s been on a roll lately. You should subscribe to her RSS feed.