Not Seeing is Disbelieving

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Speaking with a software architect — a young guy, obviously — he pointed out that he’s never seen the issues I’ve noted with a design he has, and so they must not exist. He went on to reiterate that he designed a product once that had an international market.

He didn’t ask what I had done, I didn’t volunteer it. I don’t need to swing a pedigree around, usually the recommendation I make are fairly obvious, sometimes only in hindsight.

It seems he and others seem to believe that if they haven’t heard of a particular issue, it cannot occur. This ignores:

  • Problems that occur that are not voiced because “it’s no use, they’ll never fix it”
  • Problems raised that are not escalated to the entity that can make a difference
  • Problems that are raised high enough, but are deemed “not a real problem because I haven’t seen it”
  • Problems difficult to replicate in a different country (similar to the comma problem I had in shell-based math, fails only in France)

People who discuss design and are aware of staffing/labour management don’t often bring things up for no reason. Of course, there is always room for a “painting the bike shed” discussion, but no one intends to waste staff hours. Typically, resolving things at design-time avoid staff-hours down the road.

Young architects don’t fully understand this, until they’ve done a few projects, and realize that they cannot personally see every problem.

It’s the equivalent of when software developers realize they cannot personally fix every known problem.

“Seeing is Believing”, eventually we get past the “Not Seeing is disbelieving” stage.

I remember this same argument, but by proxy: “I know a really smart guy, and he didn’t fix that problem, so that problem can never occur obviously”. I’m sure the logic errors there are obvious.

In this case, I elected to make my changes, and discuss them in hindsight. Some people recognize that I have the chinese habit of smiling and stopping when I see that I’m in an impossible task such as describing a round world to early Europeans. I don’t want to avoid making these changes, because that results in a waste of staff-hours that I don’t want to cause just to prove my point.

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