Find the real problem

Complicated systems require deeper questionsA while ago, I was asked to add some new features to an existing software system. The request seems straightforward, but my developer senses were tingling.

The user wanted to track if a student had taken a particular course. Which would have been simple but because I know students, people fail courses. So I asked if a failed course should still be noted down.

“Yes!” she said.

Well then, it’s no longer a simple single instance. The system had to track the student’s progress until the student passes. I mean if a student takes more than one attempt to pass the course, there are bigger problems. But they’re not the software system’s problem *grin*

In general, when I’m presented with a problem, I try to understand if there’s a bigger and more fundamental problem lying underneath. I don’t mean that you have to question every single question or problem once or thrice.

Sometimes your buddy asking you what you’d like to eat is simply that. And not that your buddy is insinuating that you are indecisive and is still angry the last time he picked out a place.

But you know, complicated systems like software or climate or this current pandemic require more thought into both questions and answers.