Associate Karishma Chugh's latest blog entry concerns problem-solving........
I go to work every day or for outings on weekends. And I face the same problem each time. The problem is “what to wear?” (I am a female, so it’s an obvious problem). In my subconscious mind I have a set of requirements such as weather conditions, matching shoes, the occasion or place of visit etc. In short I know that the solution to all problems has to satisfy a set of conditions laid out by the environment of the problem. But still, I forget this simple rule and drove myself into a silly but luckily escapable situation.
The story goes like this…
Imagine I am a newly hired waitress at a recently opened café. It’s the first few days at work and I am all set to make a good, rewarding start. One fine morning a customer comes in and requests the “Perfect Coffee”. I roll up my sleeves, go in the kitchen and then ‘Google’ a perfect cup of coffee (don’t forget, I am a techie). I read blogs and reviews and then decide to follow a particular recipe. I add recommended amounts of milk, sugar, cream, water and fresh roasted ground coffee. Before serving I ask my colleagues to taste: some minor changes here and there and the “Perfect Coffee” is ready to be served.
The customer takes the first sip, pulls an astonished face and says “Good Lord, what is this..? When did coffee start to taste like this?” I return to the kitchen, still in my momentum to make my first customer happy, prepare a new coffee with a different recipe with fresh milk, water, sugar, cream, and the best of coffee beans. As before, I got it tested by my friends, and this time by a few others as well. All set, I return with a new coffee. Actions repeated, the customer again picks up the cup and takes the first sip of the second coffee. He makes the same face again and says, “have I done something bad that you are angry with me? Are you trying to kill me?”.
Horrified I ask the customer “what exactly do you want? He replies “black coffee with no milk or sugar and definitely no cream”. I ask “why didn’t you tell me in the first place?”. The reply was what every failed software code would say to its developer: “you didn’t ask".
The learning here is that when pressing situations arise and there is a burden on performance and delivering, we forget to follow the basics. Demanding situations can be handled with much more ease if, and only if, basic methods of working are never forgotten. With specific reference to the IT world, knowing the requirements are very important before a solution is designed. Software engineering theory states for every successful software system, almost 70% of the time should be spent in requirement analysis.
So yes, although I know this rule very well, I forgot it on this one occasion. Specific to my case, this mistake brought a learning curve with it. My team and I have a better understanding of the product areas which can be improved and areas which can remain unchanged. However, it was a valuable lesson for the future.