The Trouble With Harry

harry2Harry is characterized by the trouble he causes others dealing with him, in vein with Hitchcock’s 1955 film. However, where the movie character is deceased, in the story below he is much alive and kicking. Now try this: (loosely) replace Harry below with some other protagonist of your choice kicking up trouble, like ‘my local bank’, ‘soccer league’ or … Enjoy it!

Harry in general works poorly or not at all. He grows 5-6% each year and as he does, he tends to encroach (make you do stuff), redistributing human effort into different forms. He either works by himself or not at all and if he doesn’t, you can’t make him – forcing doesn’t help. Should he work, leave him alone and don’t change anything.

A new Harry generates new problems, so do without him if possible. If you can’t, then keep him as small as possible. If designed from scratch for a complex task, he will never work and cannot be made to work. You then need to start over, beginning with a simple design. If made by expanding the dimensions of a smaller version, he will not behave like the smaller version. You need to start over also. Plan to scrap the first version, you will anyway.

He develops his own goals the instant he comes into being and follows those unscrupulously, regardless of any need or of changed conditions. He can’t be fully known and is his own best explanation. Harry is capable of failing in an infinite number of ways and will be operating in failure mode most of the time. Growing in size and complexity, new functions appear suddenly in a stepwise fashion as he loses basic functions.

Harry typically displays unexpected ‘prima donna’ behavior: he kicks back, gets in the way and tends to oppose his own functions. Now fully prepared for the past, he tends to malfunction conspicuously just after his greatest triumph. Temporary patches meant to improve will become permanent and former versions continue to haunt later ones. Internal operations define his functions and the larger he is, the less is the variety offered. If large, he is capable of bringing about errors of mind-boggling proportions.

He tends to attract Harry-kind-of-people. People ‘in his circles’ do not do what he says they are doing. His interface with individuals tends to be narrow anyway. To be fair: he himself is not exactly doing what he says he is doing. So the names of things are not the thing itself: they are what they are reported to be: if Harry says it happened, it happened.

Information from outside his inner circle tends to decrease and ‘home grown information’ increases for individuals in it: the outside fades and becomes less important. The meaning of communication with Harry is: feedback hasn’t fed back, until he changes his course. If he ignores it, he has begun the process of terminal instability.

In order to remain unchanged, he must change and that is The Trouble With Harry.

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Complexity Scientist