Monday, June 27, 2011

The Semmelwies Reflex

Fearless Change: Patterns for Introducing New IdeasAt the 2011 Agile Development Practices West conference, Linda Rising gave a keynote address entitled “Deception and Estimating, how we fool ourselves”. In the presentation, Linda referred to the The Semmelwies Reflex which is a metaphor for the reflex-like rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms, beliefs or paradigms. It is based on the theory that once scientists have crafted a hypothesis they are reluctant to let go.

Linda quotes Max Plank:

“A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it”.

Linda then explains that we have to wait for the old ideas to die, physically die, and she amusingly wonders “How many waterfall people must pass on before Agile takes over!!!”