A few days ago, a friend told me about the construction site that is located right outside the window of his living room. He was, understandably, complaining about the construction workers starting their shifts at seven in the morning. They make all kinds of noises and it’s costing him his nerves.

While I couldn’t do anything to improve his situation, I absolutely understood what he was going through. And after a couple of days I happened to be on my way to passing the construction site. I was doing some running and it was convenient to just pass along there. I thought, I should really check out this site. After all, they must’ve already finished a lot, if they’re always building and doing things. When I passed the site, it was empty. It was quiet. There was nothing going on. My run was in the morning, I passed the site at around 8:30am. Well so much for that! 😅

This made me think: I had heard a generalization from a trusted source and had assumed it was true. I had made further (innocent and unimportant) choices based on that generalization. Do we do that a lot? Do I do that a lot?

Turns out, probably more often than I thought.

Example: In my current project, I am building a BI dashboard for my client. My latest task was a new widget displaying numbers about some products in a nice chart. It was actually a different way, displaying slightly different numbers, for another widget that was already present. The new one took the same numbers and looked at them from a different angle. At least that’s what my client told me in the initial briefing. The name of the new widget and the sketches and wireframes that I based it on all told me the same thing: The widget’s source data is the same as for this other widget.

Only, it wasn’t… Once again I took a “simple fact”, trusted it and noticed later that the source of the fact was wrong.

In the end that wasn’t a big deal. It was easy and quick to correct and the client even noticed that he was the source of this. But! I could have noticed it sooner, if I had asked more questions. (More of the right, important questions. Which these are is a topic for another email, though…)

Do you have situations like this as well?