As developers, we’ve all encountered them. People who promote or even attempt to enforce a specific (usually inefficient, misunderstood, and inappropriately applied) way of working, and who dismiss any suggestion to the contrary out of hand with “you’re not sticking to best practices.”
Here’s my response to such people. It’s a quick and dirty scale to assess your maturity in how you deal with the concept of best practices:
Level 0: You don’t have any concept of best practices. You just fudge along and more or less busk it.
Level 1: You are aware of some common practices, which you follow simply because you are told that they are “best practices.” You attempt to master them because you believe that doing so will be advantageous to your career. You think that if you don’t stick to them, you’ll run into problems down the road, but you can’t say what those problems are.
Level 2: You are able to explain the benefits of your “best practices.” You promote them and seek to enforce them on your team, and dismiss any suggestion of alternatives as cowboy territory. You are aware of what problems they claim to solve, but not of how effective they are at actually solving them in practice.
Level 3: You are able to explain the disadvantages of your “best practices,” to propose alternatives, and to assess which ones are actually relevant to your specific situation.
Level 4: You look for evidence that your “best practices” actually deliver the benefits that they claim to deliver. You are able to identify those that do not, or whose supposed benefits are out of date, no longer relevant, fallacious, or confused with other concepts.
Level 5: You are able to come up with criteria by which to evaluate best practices for fitness for purpose.
Where do you think these Best Practices Guys fit in?