What will This Tell Us?
by Dwayne Phillips
Most tasks provide us with something and information. Often the information is more important than the something. Often the information is something we already know. If that is the case, skip the task.
Testing is a task that provides information. Well let’s back up: a good test provides information we can use.
Building a model is a task that provides information. Let’s build a model of a building, put it on a table, and show the neighbors how it fits in the surrounding area. That provides information to the neighbors and to us.
I could go on with designs, first drafts, and all sorts of things that help us do our work, but really provide information.
We now reach the question that is the title of this post: what will this tell us?
A model of a building sitting on a table will tell me how the building looks in the surrounding area. If I already know that information because of my experience with buildings and the surround area, the information is neither new nor useful. It is a waste of time to build that model.
A preliminary design of a system will tell me what I know about the system and tell others the same. If we all have experience with this type of system and know everything about it, the preliminary design is a waste of time.
I could go on and on with examples. Does the task provide information I don’t have? If yes, do the task. If I already know the situation, the task provides nothing new and nothing useful. The task is a waste of time.
What will this tell us? If the answer is, “Nothing new and nothing useful.” Skip it.
And be wise when skipping tasks. There are risks, but often they are quite small.