Inside SWT

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Analysis Paralysis

I've seen this happen to people before. They are given a problem with some really thorny cases and they thrash. Me, I think with my fingers.

Thinking with your fingers can be dangerous. For example, the first code you write, the first code that solves the problem, is never the right code. Thinking with your fingers involves refactoring. Sometimes you need to throw everything out and start again but this time, you know the problem space.

You can thrash with your fingers too. You'll know when you are thrashing. You hack and get nowhere. Everyone has experienced that sinking feeling. When that happens, turn the computer off! Go talk to someone, google or read a book. You are not alone.

There is another version of analysis paralysis that affects managers. It leads to defeating meetings, phone drone and endless email. I won't discuss that in case I get fired. Besides, I don't want to limit my advancement opportunities.



  • I'm obviously not suggesting that everyone work the same way or that thinking with fingers is the right solution for every problem.

    I've seen people go off and code great complex solutions for cases that rarely happen, making everything harder and slower. If they had prototyped, they might have recognizing that a case never happens or that there are a few custom cases that could be treated specially (ie. "Yes, I know it's ugly, but it almost never runs and everyone else gets the simpler/faster code").

    I've also seen people thrash and thrash and get nowhere hacking like madmen, fixing one last bug and never getting anywhere.

    I've also been both those people.

    By Blogger Steve, at 12:24 PM  

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