For some while I had wondered why DSDM’s most recent incarnation is called ‘Atern’. What could it possibly mean? An internet search – including a search of the DSDM site itself unearthed – nothing. Then the other day I was browsing through the discussion of the DSDM Group on LinkedIn entitled – ‘What does Atern mean?’ Given that the discussion was initiated by David Winders, who seems to know what he is talking about when it comes to DSDM, this I find slightly surprising.
Like David, I awaited a potentially embarrassingly simple answer – and one came back straight away, from Inna Dalton:
I was told that it stands for an arctic tern – a bird. There was something, it was claimed, in the fly pattern or behaviour of this bird that has some semblance to the iterative and/ or incremental nature of the method. Hence, the image of this bird on some of the books by DSDM Atern.
Embarrassingly simple indeed. But who should be embarrassed by it is another question. Not so much those who did not know but, I think, those who gave it the name in the first place. Because it lacks meaning, ‘Atern’ is just annoying, or perhaps a pretentious little joke for insiders. Now that I know the answer, my reaction is somewhere between a despairing ‘Oh dear’ and a thudding ‘So what?’ – exactly the opposite of what a brand name should do. What could possibly have possessed them to do something so crass?
Still more importantly, plainly hardly anyone seems to know what the name means – i.e., that it is the name of a bird – so the species probably doesn’t matter much. Metaphorical names (eg, a bird) are useful, but only if it is clear what the metaphor actually is!
As David concluded, ‘I do hope the Arctic Tern doesn’t become a Dodo or indeed the version isn’t a Turkey’.