• Knowing why it is I am doing what I am doing
  • Recognizing how the interaction of underlying factors and assumptions impacts our work
  • Asking questions to clarify “the why” beneath a request

The basic purpose of any computer is to solve problems. What is 37 + 5? Who was the 8th president of the United States? How can I show all my friends what I’m eating for dinner? What is the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything? (The answer is 42)

In software design, we’re often given a set of problems by the user that need solving. “Can you move this column to here?” “We need this report in a different format.” “I need to see all FRNs from every Funding Year at once.” In these situations, it is tempting to jump straight in and provide a quick solution to exactly what was asked. It may seem counterintuitive, but this is exactly what you should not do!

Instead, it is very important to dig deeper, and understand the reason behind every such request. Find out why a user needs to move a column. Is it because it makes more sense to group it with other columns? Perhaps there is a need to let each user customize a table however the individual sees fit? Or maybe the user just needs a larger monitor because theirs is smaller than their coworkers, and they can’t see the same information on screen? Without asking these questions – without Understanding the Reason - it is impossible to know whether we are giving the best possible solution (or even a satisfactory one) to any given problem.

Key words and phrases
Comprehend the information; Insight into the circumstance; Discern the meaning; Realize the importance; Grasp the significance; Perceive the implications; Make sense of the facts; Realize the situation
Opposite terms
Ignorance; Lack of understanding; Failure to comprehend; Miss the point
GuideMarks – Distinguishing Characteristics of FFL E-rate Guides

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