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How Smart People Waste Time, Money, Effort

and How You Can Fix It

These are my friends, former colleauges and mentors
Yan, Pragya, Shiny, Bikash, Nan, Cord.
We are all software developers specializing in test automation.
I was leading a presentation how we could improve our test automation.

I told them to close their laptops and get ready for an exercise.
They thought they could multi-task thru my meeting but I said no! How sneaky, eh?
I put a piece of paper face down in front of each of them.
The rules were (1) no questions (2) no talking (3) no collaborating (4) put pen down when completed.

They were ready to start but I had one last minute piece of information.
I casually mentioned that in my previous trials, that men did MUCH better than women.
I mentioned that men usually solve this in about 1 minute and usually takes women 3 or 4 minutes to complete the same task. I encouraged the women to keep going if they ran into difficulties. I noticed the women looked more determined and the men looked obligated to win. I started the timer and they started.

They flipped the page. This was it.

I repeated how much better men are than women at solving these kinds of puzzles.

After 60 seconds the first woman put her pen down, she was done.
Then very quickly the next woman, then the last women completed the puzzle – all in record time.
The men struggled and were no where near completion. I had to stop the contest after 4 minutes.

The men were embarrassed – they had been skunked!

The women were proud!

I let the women celebrate smuggly for a minute and

the men were embarrassed and put their tails between their legs.

The women had proven me wrong!


Explanation time

I pointed out the men’s puzzle had this start & finish


The women had different start & finish points

I had discovered as a young child doing these kinds of puzzles that the dead ends are shorter if going in reverse, meaning you can identify dead ends quicker in fact with a quick glance with out spending wasted time exploring the dead end. That means the women were wasting less time and making progress at the beginning of the contest because they could avoid dead ends. The men had spent extra time tracing difficult routes to end up discovering their dead ends. Unfair, eh?

But wait – there’s more!

I had actually drawn a line on the men’s puzzle blocking off the solution.


I snagged this copy of Bikash’s work from the garbage!

He was relieved there was a reason for his lack of progress!


Yan let me keep this copy of her work. Nice, eh?  

But wait – there was more sneakery going on!

 Notice the women’s version had all of the dead ends blocked – i’ve circled them below!

This wasn’t just about tricking people

There was a lesson to be learned. See below.

(a) the solution is available but you have to fight gravity and spin cycles to reach the target (b) you don’t hit the target immediately but gravity does much of the work and the funnel guides you towards the target (c) gravity and a tight constraint leads directly to the target.

Introducing Funnel man & Straw man!

Back to my presentation on software testing

I felt there were many things we did well. I also felt there were things we were doing that were complicated and costly especially in a collaborative team environment. I gave examples. This blog post is titled “How to Save Time, Effort, Money” by blocking off deadends so you’ll arrive to a solution quicker…. or using automation to do things that add extra value. 


When I receive push back from others I explain that Bits & Bytes are transistors on a computer chip – are CHEAP but people’s time including JUNIOR is expensive. You as the DDD Enforcer (subject matter expert) will learn some tips & tricks in the software testing portion of my blog how to make tight constraints that lead to saving time, effort, money. See my about Scott page to check my qualifications. I intend to post at least once per month about (1) software testing (2) random things for everyone (3) fun things for children – so set a reminder to check my blog every couple of weeks. It’s swBlog.org because some jackass outbid me on the .com domain so remember DOT ORG ! 

Connect with me on social media here.

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