‘Surely its just a case of doing X and creating a Y, then we’ll obviously get to Z. I’ve done this lots of times before.’
This is an example of Shallow Statement Syndrome, one I hear often from those involved in software development. It comes loaded with preconception and assumption and is generally delivered with great belief by the speaker. As a tester it sets my common sense tingling.
Lets decompose the highlights:
‘Surely’ – I have already decided, I’m already sure, my mind is closed to options.
‘Just’ – I don’t believe this to be complex, I am implying simplicity and ease.
‘Obviously’ – The outcome is obvious to me, I don’t need to encourage others to envisage the outcome.
‘Before’ – The issue at hand stirs nostalgia, I have done this in my past, therefore it can be done again in a similar way, possibly by others.
The problem with Shallow Statement Syndrome is the chasm beneath them when you scratch the surface. Beneath each shallow statement is analysis and detail which needs to be uncovered layer by layer as you iterate. Those who used to have the responsibility of using technology to create complex systems are particularly prone to this syndrome, their subconscious often masking the challenges they faced.
Many projects fall into this particular abyss, recognising and critically challenging shallow statements before setting off/during the journey across the sometimes rickety rope bridge of software development can save you a short trip down a deep, crocodile-infested ravine.