The Golden Hammer & Range


The Golden Hammer? What Is It?

“If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

The issues it can cause:

Why does it happen:

  • Familiarity- It easy to love what you know. Once we learn a new skill and are comfortable using it, we want to apply it everywhere and we think it's great! Especially if it's been working…
  • Repeated Success- Once we see a solution working we think “if it's working, I'm sure I can keep using it”. However, this can lead to…
  • Ignorance/ Isolation- Sometimes we simply don't know that there's a better option there. And we especially won't find it if we aren't looking.
  • Lack of Motivation- It's a lot easier to simply say “that's how I’ve always done it” and move on. This lack of motivation may even be encouraged by a company because of:
  • Large Investments- Whether it be in the technology or the training to use it. The more time and energy spent, the more likely you are to want to keep using that solution.

How To Avoid It:

  • Evidence- Before selecting a technology or choosing a design pattern, provide evidence and reasonings for the choice. Why is this option better than the other? This forces you to at least consider alternatives and clearly outline the value of the solution chosen.
  • Gaining New Experiences- The more you build and learn the easier it will be to recognize the golden hammer anti-pattern. By consciously seeking new technologies and solutions you will have more tools in your toolbox.
  • Open Communication- Encourage an exchange of ideas within a team or company. Someone else might help you not be narrow-minded and see a solution you hadn't seen before.
  • Diversity- Focus on having a team made up of people from different backgrounds. This allows for technical diversity as well as a broader experience base to draw upon.


Power of Range

RANGE: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein




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