Why do we think we’re different?

I’ve covered similar people problems during my systems thinking modules for my Open University degree. They called one of the issues ‘goal divergence’, but it’s the same thing.

Creating ‘Best Practice’ has become a goal unto itself. I can see how creating such things can be helpful to less experienced testers, but I do think James is right that they’re designing in problems. It restricts creativity.

James Christie's Blog

The longer my career lasts the more aware I am of the importance of Gerald Weinberg’s Second Law of Consulting (from his book ), “No matter what the problem is, it’s always a people problem.”

The first glimmer of light that illuminated this truth was when I came across the term “goal displacement” and reflected on how many times I had seen it in action. People are given goals that aren’t quite aligned with what their work should deliver. They focus on the goals, not the real work. This isn’t just an incidental feature of working life, however. It is deeply engrained in our psychological make-up. There is a long history of academic work to explain this phenomenon.

Focal and subsidiary awareness

I’ll start with Michael Polanyi. In his book , Polanyi makes a distinction between focal and subsidiary awareness. Focal awareness is what we consciously think about. Subsidiary awareness…

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