In a brilliant post, here, Raymond Chen makes a nice point about UNDERSTANDING.

By crikey, I can identify with that. (Work colleagues who might read this – I’m generally not referring to you!).

I used to work years ago with guys writing software, who never really knew what they were doing. Their attitude, and they would say it aloud was “Hmm, that didn’t work. I’ll just TRY THIS.” And then furiously bash away at the keyboard some more. It took enormous will power to stop from bashing their fingers off the keyboard and yelling “stop, think!”. Instead I had to patiently sit with these guys and walk them through a process of stopping, thinking, evaluating, considering, looking at their coding – and only then, changing something in a slow an considered way.

I wanted an old fashioned school teachers yard-stick (metre long ruler, these days), to WHACK THE HANDS of those who rush in where anybody should fear to tread.

Programmers who furiously rush in to change things without thinking give the illusion of being terribly active and busy. Busy without thought does not produce results. Thought, then busy, works better.

The rush to action was, I think, motivated by laziness. However, to think first, and then act is even lazier. Another reason I prefer it.


You’re right – thinking time is criminally undervalued in the workplace, with most keyboard tappers likely to be updating their Facebook profiles instead of doing real work. Unfortunately if you sit at your desk reading something or – even worse – thinking – people assume you’re lazy or not doing anything and interrupt. Shame really.

Comment by Kath Lockett | April 19th, 2009 4:00 pm | Permalink

I remember reading a book by Donald Trump a while ago. In it, he retold a case where an employee of his complained about a fellow employee, because he always tended to sit in his office looking bored and lazy. Trump said to the complainer that he does his work, on time, and with no fuss, and that he doesn’t care if he has his feet up all day or not, just as long as the work is done.

Comment by Mark B | April 21st, 2009 6:57 am | Permalink

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