One of the famous quotes of Voltaire (a French author, humanist, rationalist, and satirist who lived from 1694 – 1778) was: Common Sense is not so Common. Now what did he mean by that? And is there a relation with Garret Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons? Possibly. The way I look at it is that we tend to simplify complex matters by first making them “common”. And then we say to each other that what we have simplified is just common sense, isn’t it? This is in fact an abstraction strategy which can be dangerous. By trying to abstract the dirty details to a level that they seem invisible or not relevant anymore, it’s easy to sell your change as if it were something common, and what we should change to is just common sense, right? So we have integrated some of the unwanted details into some kind of common concept by leaving them out (after all, it’s not our job to look at the details, right?) This is where change or transformational strategies sometimes go wrong, simply because the theoretical abstraction you have developed, is not at all that easy to realize. So we forgot to look at the impact of the details because we abstracted them out, leave the dirty details for later. To explain this line of thinking a little further, you might also read the post: Culture eats Strategy for Breakfast (and how to eat breakfast). So you see now, Common Sense is not so Common at all and you should be very careful by implementing Tragedy of the Commons concepts, strategies or architectures without a good analysis of the impact.
If Anything Should Be Common, It Is Sense and Why You Should be Careful When Trying to Centralize Something
October 10, 2011