Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One of my favorite analogies

I find that one of the best analogies of all time is that of the six blind men and the elephant.

Blind men think of an elephant as a pillar, rope, tree branch, fan, wall or pipe depending on which part of the elephant they touched. Each is right and yet at the same time also wrong. The concept of right and wrong is very much entwined with the context of relativity. What is right for one isn't necessary so for the other. So often, a part truth is actually closer to falsehood and causes more harm than good.

I find this analogy also applicable in the context of my work.

Eachdomain (Dev, QA, Docs, Marketing, Sales, PM - etc.) happen to be the (not so blind) men looking at the product from their perspective alone. Losing sight of the whole picture, sometimes by choice, sometimes otherwise. Each concentrates in understanding their part of the picture and executing on it really well. Frequently there are disagreements between teams because each comes from a different perspective depending on the function they have touched. Each team needs to get deep into their stuff and make it strong. The executive team needs to take a whole picture view and delineate the elephant (product) for what it is, not a sum of its part but much more complete whole.

On a side note, when Sr. Management goes deep into one aspects, it does so at the risk of losing the complete picture

When the domain experts start looking too much at the big picture/top view, they do so at the risk of leaving one aspect weak.

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