Corn Cob

Corn Cob is the part of an ear of corn (or maize) that's left over after you remove the kernels. Historically, corn cobs were used in outhouses in lieu of toilet paper. Apparently the corn cobs were occasionally mis-aimed. I don't want to picture that.


Also a management AntiPattern from the AntiPatternsBook. Goes something like this...

Frequently, difficult people obstruct and divert the software development process. The solution is to address agendas of the individual through various tactical, operational and strategic organizational actions.

Is it just me, or this a pretty useless AntiPattern? It may be accurate but is of absolutely no help.


Is it just me, or is this not an AntiPattern at all? I thought an AntiPattern, being a sort of pattern, had to be a solution to a problem (be it a bad solution in the case of an AntiPattern). CornCob is just a CommonProblem. Surely the acid test is whether CornCob can be expressed in the form of the AntiPatternTemplate (problem, context, forces and all that stuff). Well, I don't think it can. I don't mind patterns being described in an informal manner pending a full, template-style description, but the full description should nevertheless be possible.

Now, looking up CornCob in the AntiPatternsBook, I find under Variations a lot of examples, and these examples do look like they might be proper patterns, e.g. CareeristCornCob.

-- StephenHutchinson


Having worked with someone who could be very accurately described as a CornCob (supported by management), I think this is a very useful pattern to have and to avoid! -- RichardWMJones


I cant see the relevance of the pattern name (presumably a failing). Perhaps a cultural thing? Does it refer to the obstructor, the practice of pandering to them or the panderer? (Other than possibly it being a suitable punishment for such an individual to have a cob shoved up the wotnot)


This AntiPattern, to me, is about the wrong way to deal with a CornCob. Lots of people I have worked with will react to what they think is bad management by playing political games that attempt to emasculate the manager. The larger pattern of CornCob is that the boss and often the entire team tries to address his concerns and come to rational agreements and somehow make him happy or productive again.

The way I read the AntiPatternsBook, this won't work. If a person picks the CornCob persona, the refactored solution is to get rid of him. Anybody with the mental bent to play CornCob is not an asset to a team, regardless of the talents he brings to the team.


The [American] English idiom is "He acts like he has a corn cob stuck up his--"

In this pattern, then, "He is the CornCob stuck up my--"


From the AntiPatternsBook, the general Form of This Antipattern is:

A difficult person (the Corncob) causes problems through destructive behaviors for a software development team or, even worse, throughout an enterprise. This person may be a member of the team or external senior staff (such as a technical architect or development manager) who adversely impacts the team through various means: technical, political, and personal. When dealing with Corncobs, it is important to remember that "politics is the exercise of power." Corncobs focus much more on politics than technology. Corncobs are usually experts at manipulating politics at personal or organizational levels. Technology-focused people can become unwilling, but easy victims of the Corncob�s political manipulations.

Symptoms and Consequences


This AntiPattern was a bit of welcome therapy after many years of frustration with difficult CornCobs ...


This often occurs in MatrixManagement organizations, where functional managers are given veto power (or at least a large amount of influence) over program milestones, etc. In many cases, that arrangement isn't always an AntiPattern--it is useful, in many cases, for someone from product safety to be able to derail a project which is unsafe (especially in the face of a design team/product line management which is hell-bent on shipping it regardless). However, I've seen this abused; and am aware of at least on SQA manager who was a notorious CornCob (and actually threatened a ProgramManager with "I'll stop your project dead" if said ProgramManager didn't jump through the desired hoops--the quality of the project was not at issue). He was eventually fired, after being shuffled through numerous organizations...


CategoryAntiPattern CategoryManagementAntiPattern

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