Monday, April 7, 2008

Delaying all irreversable decisions until after the last responsible moment

Yesterday I got to enjoy a drive with a direction giving passenger in an experience that would relate to the biggest risk of delaying decisions.
This passenger gives directions in the most frustrating way for me. The directions themselves are fine, but this passenger doesn't tell them until it's too late.
For example, if you're driving on a 2 lane road in the left lane, she'll tell you you need to take a right about 25 feet from an intersection. There's a disconnect between the directions and the traffic situation.
When there's traffic, it's enough to set me off. I can't handle it at all.
What frustrates me is that she knows what the next action is, but she doesn't say anything.
All I want to hear when I'm making a turn is that I'll want to make a left turn in about four blocks ahead at Washington. That's all I want.
If you don't know the street name, fine, but at least tell me what direction I'll need to turn.
Given directions early, my opportunities to prepare for the next action are maximized. It gives me an opportunity to find adjust for conditions.
The closer I get to the next action point, the less opportunity I have to prepare for it. If I have a mile of traffic, then I have a mile's worth of opportunities to position the car for the next action. By not knowing the next action, the opportunities to prepare for it are squandered.
By giving me directions when I can't act on it, it's similar to software projects where the best decision becomes clear and impossible at the same time. You see the best course of action and are powerless to do anything about it. Instead you need to either turn around or adjust your course. Either way, you're expending more than you needed to.
How do you fix this?
Best advice is to get a Garmin or other navigational tool. In software development, try to identify points of no return ahead of time and make sure that decisions that could be made that depend on that point are made before you reach that point.

No comments: