No Silver Bullet

A classic.

Originally, the title of a paper by Fred Brooks suggesting software development is forever doomed to be a complex, unproductive and error prone task.

Until a while ago, this phrase was used mainly by managers trying to justify the quality of the work they are supposed to be responsible for. This usage was widely spread, until managers realized that they do have a silver bullet to solve their problems, and invented the notion of unpaid overtime.

Since then, the most common usage for the phrase “no silver bullet? is in articles and books trying to convince their readers that they do have the ultimate answer to the essential problems of the software industry, but they cannot guarantee that it can work for you, your team, your company, and anyone else for that matter.

In more than one sense, this concept is similar to the famous disclaimer appearing in the license agreement of every software product. Basically, it means: “Thank you buying this book. We are sure you are aware that you might not be able to use any of the ideas presented in it, because of the inherent complexity in what you choose to do for a living. But then again, you might be able to use some ideas, at your own risk. Maybe if we are lucky this will be the next buzz and we will get richer by talking endlessly about why this might just be the silver bullet everyone is looking for despite of the above?.

There are numerous records of cases where this was proven to be a rather successful business model.


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