Don’t Forget to Think

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It seems easy to fall into a state where projects and activities assume such soft-focus that routine takes control, where one simply does necessary tasks automatically, no questions are raised regarding what is moving through the work-life production line and everyone is essentially asleep at the switch. Certainly, we may have one eye open ensuring that within a broad set of parameters all is well, but as long as events are basically coloring inside the borders we continue allowing things to just move along. In this semi-somnambulant state we can easily add columns to tables, or even add new entities and tables, or triggers and procedures to our databases, then eventually at some point down the road have someone turn to us and ask, “Why this?” or, “What does this really mean?” And at that point, we surprise ourselves with the discovery that the only answer we have is that someone else told us it was what we needed, but we do not really understand why it was needed. 

We may have been following the requests of someone in authority who is highly trusted and may never ever be seen as wrong. And questioning such requests may be viewed as a futile endeavor as the answers may not result in change. Or we may be under a deluge of tasks, and stopping to force answers on what may be hard to answer questions might be viewed by oneself or others as simply delaying things. Such perspectives of delay may be further sensitized by belief that final answers will likely wind up with things remaining the same, or virtually the same. Internal politics may come into play and place one into a position of being seen as “not a team player” because of constantly and “needlessly” slowing things down, or invoking controversy, or pointing out to folks yet again those hard questions they continually refuse to answer.

Despite such slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, if there are aspects one does not understand, it’s best to ask for information. Dig into what is occluded until you understand. It is important. In truth, subtleties may make a difference. What may seem relatively insignificant at the beginning of a new project can potentially have a considerable impact over the life of a solution. And the more that answers and perspectives have been clarified and understood by the involved parties, the faster later issues can be identified and resolved. Under circumstances where the organization has a wide-ranging metadata repository that has anticipated all such questions, then one can simply point the questioner to that source where an answer can be quickly located and understood.  But unless one is in some kind of utopia, chances are such a metadata repository is not yet built. The responsibility of remembering, and more importantly comprehending, why choices were made, why things proceeded one way versus another option, rests on the shoulders of everyone involved on a project.

It is never enough to simply accept the exterior aspect of a task, be it coding a function, adding a column, whatever. It is imperative to understand what one is doing. The reason for such criticality is that it is in this gnosis that folks can see what the true options are—what is essential, what is just flash, which aspects are irrelevant. Accurately grasping these points regarding the essential nature of the overall array of requirements, practices, and desires is where innovation and creativity come into play. This framing of base concepts is the mental canvas allowing the best things to happen. If one cannot see the pieces on the board, it is very hard to play the game properly.