skip to main | skip to sidebar

Jan 31, 2008

Its better to be wrong than to be vague

There's a saying, "Its better to be wrong than to be vague". This is apparently credited to physicist Freeman Dyson, though I heard it in a talk by Fred Brooks. I believe this saying holds true in any scientific discipline and especially in software engineering. If you're wrong and specific then others can question your assertions and assumptions; together the group will find the correct answer. It's best for the team and best for the project, but it requires a degree of trust and maturity only found within well-lead, competent, accountable teams.

Guidelines for Communications in Accountable Teams

  • If you don't know just say you don't know... then go find the answer.
  • If you think you know then clearly identify your degree of certainty.
  • If there are other likely causes or possibilities then acknowledge them.
  • In areas where you are knowledgeable be bold enough to take quick, logical, defensible positions; be wise enough to remain silent in areas where you are not.