Industry Best Practice

I am not qualified to assess Paul Graham's comments about the advantages of Lisp. For instance, what about Lisp and database access, which I have discussed elsewhere. But his point about the risk aversion of people in LargeCos is great:Revenge of the Nerds: "This is the kind of possibility that the pointy-haired boss doesn't even want to think about. And so most of them don't. Because, you know, when it comes down to it, the pointy-haired boss doesn't mind if his company gets their ass kicked, so long as no one can prove it's his fault. The safest plan for him personally is to stick close to the center of the herd.

Within large organizations, the phrase used to describe this approach is 'industry best practice.' Its purpose is to shield the pointy-haired boss from responsibility: if he chooses something that is 'industry best practice,' and the company loses, he can't be blamed. He didn't choose, the industry did."

It is generaly assumed that innovation fuels growth, but this implies risk. But which risks should you take and which should you minimise? If you have an established development shop, then the technicalities of a new product might be viewed as sufficient risks without adding a new language to the mix. On the other hand, shouldn't the company fund some sort of research project so that net time around the new language is not an unknown ? Otherwise you end up like the Knight from the cartoon going into battle, not having talked to the machine gun salesman.

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