captain obvious

I’ve said this before, if you state the obvious, chances are you have presented yourself as the most clever person in the group. If everyone is thinking it (and it’s a good idea) but everyone thinks it’s obvious and no one says it, then well… you’ve lost a good idea. So it’s okay, go ahead and say the obvious, go ahead be unoriginal. Say the obvious, and everyone will agree with you and you’ll be credited with the idea (if that’s what you want) because you simply spoke up.

Now I’d like to get into specifics at work. However, there’s a slight difference from what I presented above. There are times when I think the idea is obvious (because in my mind it is obvious) but other folk don’t see it that way. This has happened at the new workplace quite a bit. Because in my natural flow of saying what is obvious, I sometimes happen to say things that are obvious to me but not to everyone else. This makes me seem more intelligent than I actually am. It’s outright deception.

I look at something, and I will say, “Hmmm… this seems not right (polite way of saying it’s wrong). How about we do it this other way.” Initially there will be resistance, this is expected. But after some thought and deliberation people will realize why it’s better. In fact they’ll issue this smile that indicates they’ve been introduced to a whole new way of thinking. It’s not a half-hearted, “yeah that sounds like a good idea”. It’s a, “OMFG, that’s bluddy brilliant!”. Yes, I deduce this all from a smile.

Sometimes there won’t even be any resistance.
I say, “I think we should do it this way.”
Cue smiles.
“That’s actually a great idea!”.

But in my mind it’s just the way I’d do it. Why else would I do it any other way? It just seems so natural. It might be experience in dealing with these type of things, and that experience quickly collects in my mind and tells me the “natural” way. Of course, the readings I do also help. But I haven’t tried most of what I’ve read. I just “feel” that it will work.

When I see something that isn’t done quite “right”, I can’t help not say anything. I must speak out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the Main Architect (notice the upper case) person or the junior developer. If I see something that doesn’t “feel” right to me, they’ll hear it. It really is nothing personal. I don’t dislike you, unless you’re incompetent. I can’t stand incompetence. Don’t be a pretender, go do something else instead. At least be honest, admit your incompetence. Okay, back to what I was saying. It’s not personal, please don’t take it personally. But some people do take it personally, this bothers me. They’ll defend their work even if it’s wrong. Grow up and get over yourself. Admit your mistake and move on. No harm, no foul. Thank you.

Of course this applies to me too. I’ve deleted/restarted/ditched plenty of my own ideas because I’ve realized that I was plain wrong. This is probably why I know that you’re wrong, because I’ve been wrong myself.

In any case, I was pulled into a meeting where a 3rd party software vendor was describing how we could integrate their software into our websites. I took a look at the integration code that was in their powerpoint presentation.

I resisted the urge, I really did.

But then I raised my hand and said, “Wouldn’t be a lot simpler if you used hashes? And that would automatically allow you to provide X, Y and Z functionality without much extra work!!”.

The technical person on their end thought about it for a second or two. “Yes, that’s a good idea. Actually it’s a great idea”. I could see the smile forming on his face. As if he was introduced to a whole new way of seeing the problem (and he was). The pains he’s had to go through to implement his own solution were showing. He sits down, a few more seconds pass. It’s still on his mind, “That would make things a lot easier”.

“Yeah, come on guys, why wouldn’t you think of this in the first place? Now you’ve released your API to so many of your customers. It’d be hard to change it and get them to implment it.”

“Yes, but we could still try it. Why don’t you send us an email, maybe we could implement it for you?”, the tech lead says.

“Also, please attach your resume to that email. We’re always looking for clever people.”, says one of their tech/business people.

I think I laughed inside a little. Did they just offer me an interview in a meeting where we were purchasing their software? Hah!

At least my experiences here (current workplace) have been better in that regard, here people will eventually admit to good/obvious idea, even if we can’t implement it due to whatever constraints. Where I worked before, I just got mad stares and weird looks, I felt I was insane.

Point is, tell people when they’ve done something wrong or complicated. Even if it seems like the obvious thing to say. They don’t know any better.

5 thoughts on “captain obvious”

  1. yup y up and yup. the lesson you should be learning, which I think you have, is that what is natural and obvious to you is not so to others. this is actually beacuse your brain works differently — call it intelligence or cleverness or raging insanity, you see solutions differently than the average, apparently.

    re people not admitting mistakes in their work – uff, i haaate that. then they look at you like you’re the insane one. *shakes head*

  2. call it intelligence or cleverness or raging insanity, you see solutions differently than the average

    i think there’s something wrong with the average. the “average” should be better. it’s not that i’m intellectually gifted or some such, no, it’s that the average isn’t well read enough, or hasn’t really lived in the problem domain enough.

    that is to say that they’re doing what they’re doing for the sake of getting it done for a deadline or some other lackluster purpose. while if they did it for themselves or for a “better” purpose, then they’d know and be able to see the problem differently. not so much differently, but they’d be able to see it the way it ought to be seen.

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