Sutton’s slip

In medical field there is a term called Sutton’s slip which is used when possibilities other than the obvious are not considered. Problems are everywhere and when we try to solve them we tend go for the obvious solution. When going through the 11 laws of fifth discipline by Peter Senge I inferred that there are more problems created through easy corrective actions one takes for the problem. If we focus on the obvious solutions then as per the ‘laws of fifth discipline’ things seem to get better and then becomes worse than it was ever before.


One example I could think of ‘where going for the obvious was a wrong choice’ was at my workplace. Our software development team’s velocity was in a constant decline. Velocity directly translated to the requirements getting implemented and clients always had a close watch on it. One of us in the team decided to include a metric ‘Cost per story point’ to help bring visibility into the cost associated with building a feature which in turn he believed will drive the team to be conscious of the output and take corrective actions  much early on to reduce the cost. What followed was the inflation in the estimates, the team was using fibonacci series as the estimation scale. We had 1,2,3,5 as possible sizes for our stories, what we did not notice was that there were no new 1 point stories added to the backlog. Slowly inflation ate up the 1 point story and the two point story became the beginning size. Though it eventually led to a lower cost per story point, the value delivered was much lesser.

When you’ve got a hammer in your hand, everything looks like a nail

Reference – Cognitive BiasesLaw of the instrument

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

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