Doctrine is not a checklist to follow

Recently, I have come across a study that said that if a man can do 40 pushups in a row, his risks of having a stroke go down rapidly (by 96%).

This is obviously rubbish.

Correlation does not bring causation, and if you, after years of inactivity, train yourself how to do those pushups, you train exactly that. You do NOT improve your chances of not having a heart attack that much. The proper conclusion is that if you follow a healthy lifestyle, and you take care of yourself to the point you can do 40 pushups (which is not your goal, just a byproduct), then you are fit & healthy.

Precisely the same approach applies to mapping Doctrine. The goal is not to have all of the fields described by Simon green, but rather have an organisation that:

  • knows what do users need,
  • knows how to do it efficiently,
  • knows how to manage involved uncertainty and risk.

Think Small (know the details) - highlights the importance of planning, and in planning it is the process of discovery that matters, not the plan itself. The purpose of planning is to find uncertainties and risks in the first place.

The problem is that you cannot figure it out all yourself for a company bigger than a small startup. You have to bring others, their knowledge, and their biases. You have to equip them with a common language that will enable to challenge assumptions. The purpose here is not to put a check mark on the Doctrine, but to let your employees do their job.

And when you can no longer supervise them, you need to take care of their mastery and autonomy.

I could go with the list on and on, but I trust you get the point by now.

Lack of doctrine implementation is definitely a constraint. But is it the most critical constraint you face? I do not think so.

So, after you get through the first Doctrine exercise, building Situational Awareness, everything else becomes context-dependent. You could need to focus on other aspects of Doctrine, but it does not have to be the case.

And when Simon says that Doctrine assessment is useful in predicting company success, it does not mean that implementing Doctrine will be helpful in your company success.


Comparison of doctrine assessments of an efficient and inefficient company, by @swardley

The Doctrine will help you if it is a byproduct of a laser-sharp focus on your stakeholders, not a goal in itself.

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