ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010: Best Practices

Posted in: Technical Track

Updated: 29-Jun-2010, 30-Jun-2010.

For me, ODTUG Kaleidoscope 2010 started on Friday with the ACE Directors briefing. Best practices topic was touched there slightly and I twitted about it. I decided that the feedback deserves a blog post so I’m simply quoting the conversation here. If you have anything to add, you know where to find the comment box.

best practices should be forbidden or rather renamed to blue-prints #ACED

GregRahn: @alexgorbachev IMHO “Best Practices” are often sought after as an alternative to thinking and understanding. Two key components there!

CaryMillsap: Amen. RT @alexgorbachev: best practices should be forbidden or rather renamed to blue-prints #ACED

simon_haslam: Not sure but the term is overused RT @alexgorbachev best practices should be forbidden or rather renamed to blue-prints #ACED

debralilley: @alexgorbachev #bestpractice is WIP – easier to collect and publish initially but much harder to keep up but we should strive for it #ACED

CaryMillsap: @debralilley @myfear Designing “practices” is like designing library functions: generalizing means parameterizing. #aced

dannorris: @alexgorbachev re: best practices; what&#39s in a name? Call them “stuff to do that avoids bad things” Note: I am not in marketing :)

CaryMillsap: @dannorris It&#39s much easier to document the generally bad ideas than to document the generally good ones. #TenCommandments #aced

sheeri: “Best practices” should be thought of as “up for renewal” often. Often, “best practice + time = myth”. #ACED

oraclebase: To paraphrase Tom Kyte, the list of caveats is always longer than the best practice itself. #ACED

hyounpark_AG: Very true. Best != Permanent or immutable RT: @sheeri: “Best practices” should be thought of as “up for renewal” often. #ACED

Fri Jun 25 20:50:55 +0000 2010
CaryMillsap: “Best practice” the way to say “good idea” (or “MY idea”) when you want to stop people from thinking critically.

coins term “Minimally Sufficient Practice” (MSP) to combat #bestpractice epidemic. Yes.

CaryMillsap: On Oracle-L, @pudge1954 coins term “Minimally Sufficient Practice” (MSP) to combat #bestpractice epidemic. Yes.

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About the Author

What does it take to be chief technology officer at a company of technology experts? Experience. Imagination. Passion. Alex Gorbachev has all three. He’s played a key role in taking the company global, having set up Pythian’s Asia Pacific operations. Today, the CTO office is an incubator of new services and technologies – a mini-startup inside Pythian. Most recently, Alex built a Big Data Engineering services team and established a Data Science practice. Highly sought after for his deep expertise and interest in emerging trends, Alex routinely speaks at industry events as a member of the OakTable.

5 Comments. Leave new

Mark W. Farnham
June 29, 2010 11:02 am

When THE vendor calls something a “Best Practice” it creates inertia to doing something better at too many shops. It is far more likely to be able to define a “Minimally Sufficient Practice” (for example long term collection of performance metrics for capacity planning) than to ever label something “Best” and pass the laugh test. The MOSES papers were based on the idea of insisting that vendors make products do “at least this.”

Cary Millsap
June 29, 2010 10:28 pm

I like Mark’s idea a lot. It puts the pressure where it needs to be: on making sure that the floor is strong enough without restricting the ceiling. (…To paraphrase myself from a paper I wrote in the early 1990s.) By the way, Mark’s MOSES (Massive Open Systems Environment Standards) group was by far the most effective committee of which I’ve ever been a part. Much of what was great about Oracle 7.3 came from that committee. It was fantastic to be a part of it. I miss it.

Alex Gorbachev
June 30, 2010 8:55 am

If the target is to sell more than BEST sells better.
If the target is to educate customers then MINIMALLY SUFFICIENT seems to reflect the meaning better.


Barely Sufficient is the Agile term.

Agile and twitter both give me a headache and I consider them worst practices in their respective domains. Agile because I deal with the long-term consequences of what used to be called RAD development on a daily basis, and twitter because by it’s arbitrary limitations it has the ironic effect of making a medium sized collection of thoughts much larger and disconnected than simply writing would, in addition to requiring mental translation of obscure and arbitrary symbols. I’d rather read a well-considered blog posting from anyone quoted here than this babbling brook of consciousness.

Could I condense that to 160 characters… would I want to?

Blueprints are ignored at builder’s peril. I think that is quite different what best practices should be.

Best Practices have a reason for being: someone has vetted the practice. The best practices you are complaining about either haven’t been vetted, that is they are just someones opinion, or they haven’t correctly elucidated their limitations. Any term you replace it with may be co-opted for some other meaning. Remember OFA?

Any profession is going to have terms that only those in the know understand properly. If you don’t want a cabal, educate everyone. Especially about what marketing fluff is.

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July 2, 2010 4:23 pm

[…] Oracle ACE Director’s briefing Alex Gorbachev continues the conversation on best practices with a blog post and encourages you to add your […]


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