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Check The Requirements Forrest

Forrest Gump Meme

The number one mistake in technology that’s made continuously is failure to check requirements. It reminds me of the line “Stupid is as stupid does” from Forrest Gump. In the simple rush to help in everyday tasks or desperate struggle to finish a stalled major project, a lot of time and money is wasted jumping into action before evaluating what is possible.

An exasperated engineer calls up more than aggravated that he’s spent a couple of hours updating a Windows XP desktop and then was unable to install Office 2013. Office 2013 is only supported on Windows 7 or higher and will refuse to install on anything else.

Everyone’s got a similar story and for large projects, someone often gets fired. Before you go down the rabbit hole or lose your job, focus on:

Outcome. There is usually a better way to do something in technology than your current approach. If you get a full list of what people are really trying to accomplish, the answer is either simpler or you can provide alternatives to that idea that doesn’t exist yet from the movies.

Rules. You know what happens when you assume. In technology, seemingly easy requests are often difficult and the complicated ask is usually a breeze. Save yourself grief and everyone time because software and hardware manufacturers have specifications that dictate what works together and is supported.

Stop time. The fatal flaw of virtually every technical person is that they don’t know when to say when. An hour into everyday tasks is a good cut-off to stop when you’re over your head or no resolution is in sight. You may have missed something or simply need to contact the manufacturer or others with more knowledge. Hopefully, you paid attention to outcome and rules above before starting that big project.

Maybe this advice will keep you from being a shrimp boat captain.

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