Been reading AntiFragile by Nassim Taleb came across a new term to me, Iatrogenics – definition from from wikipedia

Iatrogenesis, or an iatrogenic artifact (pron.: /aɪˌætroʊˈdʒɛnɪk/; “originating from a physician”) is an inadvertent adverse effect or complication resulting from medical treatment or advice, including that of psychologists, therapists, pharmacists, nurses, physicians and dentists. Iatrogenesis is not restricted to conventional medicine; it can also result from complementary and alternative medicine treatments.

It seems a neat idea the costs of action compared to inaction, how many people would be better off left alone.

Taleb uses it in context of a personal doctor who feel they must doctor, copy editors who feel they need to change words in order to justify themselves. What damage does make busy do? perhaps it would be better in many cases to just leave alone. Rather like in engineering if it works leave it well alone, don’t touch it.

Perhaps I should have Iatrogenic days applied to software I just spent a long time sorting out errors in a concrete5 system only to find that the system relied on those errors. Errors cancelled out errors to make system work (argghh).

Whilst this isn’t an argument for always doing nothing perhaps there is a argument for considering the effects any action could have on the whole system. Rather than being focused on the end result you have in mind at that moment and inadvertently causing more harm than good.