In Productivity By Ziemek February 10, 2017 Ziemek

Conquer developer anxiety with logic

Have you ever sat down at your computer and wondered “How am I ever going to make this work?” You check your email just to avoid the hard task of thinking about it. “I’ll get started in a little bit; I just need some coffee,” you tell yourself. Meanwhile, the task at hand is not getting any easier.

I certainly have been in this situation before, and I want to share with you the things that I have learned over the years to overcome these types of problems.

The person who gave you the requirements is likely telling you their version of the solution and not the real issue. So you need to find out the source of the problem instead of the proposed solution that they are giving. Let me give you an example of what I mean.

A few days ago, I had an issue with my kettle while making my morning tea. To my surprise, it did not seem to be working. I checked the plug, and it was plugged in. Everything appeared to be fine, but it would not turn on. I quickly concluded that a fuse inside the kettle must have burnt out and it stopped working.

I explained this to my wife and told her how much of a rush I was in to get to work. She walked over, grabbed a pot from the cupboard and boiled some water.

So what happened here? Was the kettle my problem here? No, my problem was that I needed to boil water to make tea in the morning.

Most people don’t tell you what the problem is. They only show you their version of the solution. Asking questions and getting clarification will not only help you understand the problem but also help the other person understand their problem better. To trigger this, ask questions such as:

  • I understand your problem, but can you tell me what are you trying to accomplish?
  • Describe to me why you want this feature?
  • Suppose that I have a solution ready for you, can you walk me through what you are going to do with it? You need to dig deeper to understand what their problem is and come up with a solution that might be easier or more efficient.

So ask yourself, do "I have the real issue or just a proposed solution"?

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