Decisions are emotional, right? Brent loves Sanka and I love Postum. We fight about it all the time. But when we wanted to settle the debate once and for all, we engineered a test to figure out who was right. You can do the same thing to take the personal investment out of technical decisions at work.
Check Yourself at the Door
The first thing you need to remember is that your opinions are just as valid everyone else involved. You need to move those aside and be ready to be wrong.
If the other people involved don’t want to play along, just tell them “Heck, I’d be happy to be wrong because I’ll learn something.” It’s not a bet or a contest, you’re just offering up your willingness to be wrong. Being wrong is great, especially when it’s your turn to be right later on.
Test, Test, Test
The next step to making that decision is to figure out a test. This test has to depend on your different opinions. The purpose of this test is to get your opinions out of the conversation.
Doing this correctly is really hard. You need to figure out:
- What are both sides saying?
- Which metrics will prove both points?
- What won’t prove anyone’s points?
- What’s the fastest way to test both options?
- What’s a realistic scale to for testing?
- What’s the worst that could happen if either side is right?
- What’s the worst that could happen if either side is wrong?
- If you can only run one test, which test should you run?
Hey, You Said This Was Easy!
All of this sounds like a lot of work. It turns out being factually right is just as much work as being factually wrong. If you really want to make sure that you’re choosing the right solution to a problem you need to figure out which option is the most right way to solve the problem – both solutions could be good, but one just might be better. The only way to get to proof is to test everything.
The next time there’s an argument on your team, or between two teams, figure out the best way to test each side’s ideas instead of spending your time arguing about which solution is the best.
Of course, you could always just fight in the parking lot like school kids. I hear that works well, too.