From the Armchair

The distance trap


“That sounds like something an automated test should have caught.”

“If you cannot catch a basic bug like this, then what the hell is QA doing?”

“If you would just add step X to your process, you wouldn’t have this issue.”

Distance simplifies things.

On the abstract, everything is easy; when you get down to the detail, hardly anything is.

I’ve been on both side of this issue. I’ve been the one on the outside being puzzled about how teams and people seem to struggle with seemingly basic things. I’ve also been up close, receiving “feedback” of the kind exemplified above.

As a result, I defined a basic assumption for myself whenever I feel tempted to do some “armchair” QA, development or project management.

Here goes:

People are smart. If I think they’re missing basic things, it’s probably me missing information or complexity.

Therefore, I set myself a basic rule whenever I’m tempted to make such comments.

Here goes:

Whenever I’m tempted to “armchair” something; don’t.

Why? There is no possible scenario that such comments will be perceived as constructive or helpful. However, if I really believe I have a unique perspective to offer, I usually offer help along the lines of “hey, I have some ideas on how to avoid such situations in the future, if you’re interested we can discuss them face to face.” Then it’s up to the other party to decide if they see value in that or not.

That is all.