Focus on Defocusing

Two weeks before I broke my spectacle that was bought just six months back. Now needless to say, I have to buy a new spectacle. So I went into a spectacle store. On entering the store I saw four to five sales executives with a warm smile (Yeah! Two of them were good looking girls ;)) .I was totally confused whom should I approach first. You have to believe me that I did not go to the cute looking girls, instead decided to Go to Gemba as one among them was wearing spectacle. I thought he (yea, unfortunately it is he😦 ) would be the correct person to help me out in selecting the better spectacle.

I approached him, and asked for nice frames that would be within  my budget and yea,good looking too. He helped me with many of the frames displayed. He suggested with few frames that would make me to look even smarter😉. I tried out quite a little and focused on the mirror to know if I am looking smarter. I shortlisted three frames but still not able to decide on which one to select. With the confusion I went and took a seat, to get my eye power tested.

I had my previously tested power details noted, so I gave him the card that has my eye power details. The salesperson asked for my older spectacle as well to cross verify the power in it. So I handed over both the card and broken spectacle, after measuring the power, I found there was a 5 degree difference between the power details in the card and the spectacle. I remember the last spectacle was ordered with the power prescribed in that card. So I asked the salesperson why there is a difference, he said that could be a manufacturing defect, a manual or machine fault. Then I asked is the 5 degree difference a major concern, though I did not find any issues with that lens. He said it is not a major issue and up to 10 degree will not have any visual difference.

I just wondered what if people go with this mindset and then design, develop, test, maintain and use a machine that is to be used to destroy cancer cells or a MRI Scan machine, where precision is very important. So it is

Good to bring prior knowledge and experience, but not the mind-set across different projects.

Needless to say this time I checked the power again in the new spectacle at the time of delivery, I am a tester and I test every thing.

Back to the story, I was still wearing one of the new frames I shortlisted, at the time of the discussion  about power difference, I realized that the frame is not so comfortable .I felt some irritation near my ears and nose. That’s when I realized my focus on how it looks to me, made me to ignore many other important factors. When I defocused from one factor, I was able to feel\realize many other missed factors. And I didn’t even focus on comfort, just defocusing from one factor automatically helped to realize other factors. Now I focused on the comfort factor and ended in selecting a frame better frame. So before starting of testing list down the factors prioritized like Functionality, Usability, Testability, Maintainability, Reliability, Compatibility, Scalability etc., then start focusing on them one  by one based on priority.

Defocusing is as important as focusing.

But was this the better frame and will it be free from problems? I don’t know because

Problems unfold over time in ways that are often not predictable.

Here is one great example I read recently how any system cannot be defined with a boundary and how problem unfold that are often not predictable. When Denver airport was built, it was claimed that the airport would never close, even for a snowstorm. The advanced technology would permit flights to take off n land even in adverse weather. When the first big snowstorm hit, every flight got cancelled. Why? Pilots lived in mountains nearby and they could not get to airport in storm.

Happy Focusing and Defocusing!

Dhanasekar S (with new good-looking spectacle :))

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12 thoughts on “Focus on Defocusing

  1. A nice point that is touched upon. Actually I have found that testing is better done without glasses, when the visibility is too low🙂.
    Jokes apart, what I have seen is that the people mainly focus on releasing the software and focusing on what is told by the bosses i.e. to test the system per requirements and release. There is very less focus on usability/testability/compatibility etc. And that is the reason that the products fail when they go out in the market. As customer is God and when they start reporting the issues, then only everyone realizes the areas that were not focused upon during testing.

    1. And people need to realize a small UI fix can save lot of calls made to customer service,thus reducing the maintenance cost. I have to differ from your point Customer is not God, Customer is your wife😉
      I got this from Joel Spolsky post http://www.joelonsoftware.com/items/2008/03/17.html
      Even the word Pragmatist is from the post,I was searching for my blog title and on reading this article I felt Pragmatist is the perfect choice🙂

  2. Focus on defocusing,, a very nice title and so perfect for this blog. and the things listed here are so true.. sometimes jus focussing on one of the factor we defocus so many things and repent later. it has happened to me so many times😦 i hope i ll be able to focus on the defocused factors😛 hee hee
    BTW i want to see ur new spectacles too :p

    1. Renu,
      The most important factor that many are missing,focusing on one means we are missing many other factors,everything comes by practice,so try to have a checklist initially with the list of factors to focus on and keep referring to it,slowly that will become a practice. I will try to put a photo with the new spectacle too in this blog😛

  3. Interesting post! and liked the very relevant analogy to testing. Defocussing indeed helps when we are deeply focusing on certain things… and this trait can be developed over a time, with experience🙂 Loved the Denver airport example. Another one i would like to add is the famous Titanic ship that was designed never to sink but went down in the waters, on its very first voyage! I hope it is relevant here🙂

    1. Thanks Priya,
      Titanic I feel it is little different from Denver airport incident,Denver they claimed that airport will remain open even for snow storm and can be operated,and that was under operational when snowstorm hit,but forced to close because of unexpected problem. Titanic they claimed it will not sink,but it did.

  4. Good read !! Its true focusing hard on anything specific can influence us to skip more important observations/behaviors/characteristics; actually a “Inattentional Blindness”

    A question; the link “Go to Gemba” took me to a Wikipedia link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemba. What was interesting was the Wikipedia page was talking about a Japanese word “Genba” with title “Gemba” (as it linked in your post). Am confused now as which is the correct word, is it
    • Gemba
    • Genba
    • Or both
    • Or Both NOT ???

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