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# The map is not the territory

+++ September 8, 2021 +++

There is little software in the development community that raises so much anger as Jira. It is not a bad piece of software, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve seen so much misuse there that it is not hard to find people that recall past battle scars when they confront it again.

I will focus in Jira for the sake of the storytelling but this is applicable to every single project management software.

During my holidays I invested some time in a beautiful book by Shane Parrish called “The Great Mental Models vol.1” [1]. One of the lessons we see in the book is “The map is not the territory”.

What do we mean by “The map is not the territory”?

What does this have to do with Jira?

At the end of the day we use Jira as a model with the real project. What is there is not the real project but a projection of the real project. It is a simplification over reality so we can do some operations over it with more ease.

Sometimes we forget that we are working with a model and we apply some characteristics of the real project to the model or even worse, the other way round.

Forgetting that a model may not be complete and still look good

Unfortunately the project needs to look good.

Having more people working on the model and too little on the real project

This is as nuts as having more cartographers than seamen.

Sometimes we spend too many resources making the model look good whilst the real project is an absolute mess.

Having a tidy model may give the false impression that the project is being tidy. Since most external stakeholders just see the model they won’t enter the complex world of the real project they will build their impression based on the model. This is a simple, intentional or not, form of deception.

[1] The great mental models vol1

Have fun!!