Sunday, October 9, 2011

The forest for the trees

We are all taught from the first moment that the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. That is: to work on a complex problem, always start by simplifying the task by decomposition, disaggregation, and separation of the trees from the forest.

Ok, but what about this: (think: object = tree; distant background = forest)

In a posting on "Azimuth", John Baez has a part I discussion of evolution in complex systems from which the diagram, above, is taken.

In addition to the distortion arising from the point of view from which data is viewed, he goes on to caution about the the Dunning-Krueger effect (the uninformed, misinformed, and ignorant are biased to not understand their own cognitive deficiencies), saying, in part:

... if we don’t understand a system well from the start, we may overestimate how well we understand the limitations inherent to the simplifications we employ in studying it.

But, it's not only trees: it's also use cases and user stories, and then ultimately Test-Driven-Development scripts, all decompositions that have the potential to alter perspective.

Thus, constant attention to "re-composition" to validate low level requirements with high level vision is necessary. That is the essence of the "V-Model", a bit of system engineering that we can all take advantage.

Delicious Bookmark this on Delicious
Are you on LinkedIn?    Share this article with your network by clicking on the link.