Z is for… Zebra

An older, wiser man than us once said, “If you hear the sound of hooves, you should shout ‘Horse’, not ‘Zebra'”.

It’s a perfect example of suggesting you should perhaps jump to the obvious conclusion first.

This also applies to the times you’re trying to solve a problem, particularly a technical problem. Start off by accepting that the obvious solution might just be the answer you’re looking for and pursue that option first.

The thing is, you’re running a technical project and you’ll have a pile of techies in your team. Now, when you have a pile of techies in one place, they like to do techie things, they like to talk about techie things. Their natural instinct will drive them to come up with the complicated answer because it’s more interesting than the easy one.

For the true low-level techie, upgrading the development platform to the next version of Java is much more fun than changing ten lines of code. Each may have the desired effect but there’s loads more to play with with the former option. Unfortunately the former will bring many, many more problems.

So, one of the problems you will undoubtedly have is preventing your techies wandering off down the more complicated solution path because it happens to be a path that interests them.

When you see it happening, shout “Horse!” at the top of your voice and see what kind of reaction you get. Nine times out of ten, you’ll probably be right and you’ll have saved some time and effort by not pursuing some esoteric techie solution.

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