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Fear-driven development (FDD) is a term coined in IT to talk about problems with software development where companies might be so afraid of making mistakes that they restrict or control processes in harmful and inefficient ways. It is also used to talk about situations where company leadership might drive development teams through fear, which can also have a corrosive effect on the overall software development process.
The term fear-driven development is often attributed to Scott Hanselman, who writes about this phenomenon. Hanselman talks about “organizational fear” and “analysis paralysis,” and describes how a company might develop an obsession with double-checking and triple-checking code, restricting meetings, trying to throttle feedback, or otherwise trying to manipulate the process based on the fear that something will turn out wrong. Experts explain how this actually undercuts the ability of developer teams to innovate and move forward, and can be extremely harmful for company.
Then there is the other type of fear-driven development, where company leadership rules through instilling fear in their employees. They might push employees to work overtime, including weekends and evenings, or otherwise push them to perform by telling them that their jobs are at stake. Again, productivity experts would not recommend this kind of punitive management process, and often describe the ways that it might break a company down.