Monday, December 31, 2012

Lister's Law

I am not making any resolutions to blog more although I should, but I am ending 2012 reading a very enlightening book called Slack by Tom DeMarco.

I am probably a third of the way through the book.  On page 50 there is the mention of something referred to as Lister's Law.

"People under time pressure do not think faster." - Tim Lister

When I read that it had a familiar ring.  Perhaps Michael Bolton and James Bach have echoed similar phrases.  I know these two pioneers encourage us testers to think.  In fact there actions challenge us to think.  I never stopped to consider that thinking happens at a fixed rate.  I have never actively set aside time to think nor have I pondered the rate of thought.

I do not know about other testers, but I do not think my brain every stops.  I actually believe that is why I have trouble sleeping, but that is another story altogether.

Despite the wisdom in this book I feel testers are always going to face an extreme amount of pressure.  Under the burden of pressure and rapid decisions how can we afford the time to think.  I do not yet know how this concept of a fixed rate of thinking will influence my day to day actions.  But I do know that I need to strive for a balance and inject some slack into my day for deep and explicit thought.

I am a reactionary type of person and very free to offer opinions.  Many time my opinions land me in trouble especially when I do not take the time to think about the context of my points and the perspectives of the audience.

A colleague the other night joined me at a concert and we were talking about the open mouth insert foot phenomenon.  He stated he now considers three things:

  • Should what I am thinking be said
  • Should it be said now, and
  • Should it be said by me
I really think he is spot on.  We especially need to give ourselves the time to think if we get to the third bullet in this thought process.

I am not sure about all testers, but I feel constantly under pressure.  In 2013, I am going to try and find ways to relieve some of that pressure.  I do not know how yet, but I assure you I will be giving it some more thought.

Slack is written with a business focus, but I believe the lessons expand to our society.  We simply put to much pressure on ourselves and those around us.  

Add some slack to your day to day operations and add Slack to your 2013 must read list.