Jira, Dogs and Chocolate

Jira, Dogs and Chocolate

I’m a dog person. As such, I know that chocolate is toxic to dogs. They’ll happily wolf it down, of course. But then they’ll get sick, with a range of symptoms including vomiting, diarrhoea, increased thirst, panting or restlessness, excessive urination, and racing heart rate. In severe cases, symptoms can include muscle tremors, seizures, heart failure and death.

“Clinical signs of chocolate poisoning can take hours to develop, and last for days.”

Chocolate is toxic because it contains a chemical called theobromine, as well as caffeine. Theobromine is the main toxin in chocolate and is very similar to caffeine. Both chemicals are used medicinally as a diuretic, heart stimulant, blood vessel dilator, and a smooth muscle relaxant. Dogs cannot metabolize theobromine and caffeine as well as people can. That is why dogs are more sensitive to the chemicals’ effects.

So it is with teams and Jira. Teams will happily embrace Jira at first, but then quickly sicken as its toxicity kicks in.

Clinical signs of JIRA poisoning can take days to develop, and last for weeks or months, even when the ingestion has ceased.

Teams and organisations use Jira is a way of communicating without talking with each other. It’s an impersonal substitute for common forms of human communication, and offers only a fraction of the understanding we get from actually interacting with one other directly. It’s toxic to finding common ground, and common understanding, especially in its typical mode as a “communications” nexus.

As an expert in team health, I recommend you avoid exposing teams to Jira in any form. Jira is an example of a tool with which it is far easier to poison your teams’ relationships, than to enhance them. Much like chocolate and dogs.

– Bob



Also applies to Slack, and maybe other tools too.

Non-dog People

I can remember many occasions where clueless non-dog people insisted on feeding chocolate to my beloved hounds, even surreptitiously after I’ve requested them not to. So it is with many managers, who, heedless of the health and social dynamic of teams, feed them Jira, regardless.

  1. My experience has been that many teams that use JIRA reduce all human communication that they do to only and exactly reporting what they did in JIRA. Typically the manager holds a daily meeting where they insist that each team member report exactly what they did in JIRA since the last meeting.

    If JIRA was a useful tool for project management, wouldn’t the tool report what was done?

    • Whilst I have many criticisms of Jira, I can’t criticise if for avoiding at least one scenario for “doing the wrong things righter” (Cf. Ackoff). What was done is irrelevant. Which and whose needs were met (or attended-to) is the thing, IME. Maybe when the Antimatter Principle is finally incorporated (sic) into BAU, the distinction will become moot?

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