I am starting to really gain an understanding for how Dr Frankenstein must have felt, that terrible mix of pride at what he’d created and then horror as he watched it lurch off towards another village.
Today I recieve a Typical Request, this is the sort of thing I get used to, I’m so used to it now that that as you can tell I generally butcher my notes, be kind, normally there are only for me to read.
As a “Doer” (note I give myself a capital), I’m used to getting tasks like this, although if I’m honest I’ve done a pretty good job of collating this into something meaningful and in this particular case the customer had actually mocked something up… very unusual! This is however a great one to show you how it goes typically when I receive a request like this.
Step 1: Meet with customer
Step 2: Panic – What am I doing, what have I agreed to, why am I speaking to myself?
Step 3: Refer to Data Model, does it have the core data I need
Step 4: Create additional Measures as required
Step 5: Start setting out reports
Step 6: Meet with customer(s) and present results
Step 7: Rework as required (never ever underestimate this step, your first pass will invariably miss the point and not through anyone’s fault)
Step 7 is by far the hardest step for people to understand, this goes back to my time in Consultancy but is a hard lesson to learn and can be a bitter pill to swallow. Emergent Behaviour is not the same as people doing a “Lou” (See Lou and Andy), the reality is much more complex while at the same time being simpler – I’ll jack all this in at some point and become a motivational speaker – EMERGENCE. Emergent Behaviours are mathematically unpredictable without going through the steps. A great example of this is Langton’s Ant. So when you present to your customer/manager/trained/untrained imp a report and they say “couldn’t it do…” or “but I wanted…” generally what they really mean is “Holy Cow that’s blown my socks off, that reports shows me <Insert point here>, I wish I could dig deeper”. The Emergent Behaviour is that if you didn’t do the first draft/pass they wouldn’t know what they wanted. There is no way to predict the outcome without following the steps. Knowing that and releasing the stress of being asked to make changes is a vital step. Likewise, the frustration often felt by the requestor needs to be tempered (I find however reminding them off this rarely moves things forwards) hopefully one will read this an have that “Holy rusty metal Batman” moments (other super heros are availalbe!) and realise that in fact that first pass was necessary to help distil what it is they are looking for and to drive the key thing they actually want – An Invaluable Report rather than worthless jibber jabber.
Good hunting Starbuck!