Ready, Fire, Aim?

July 16, 2012

In my last post, “Start Right or Don’t Start At All”, I strongly suggested that, before you start researching your own CI projects, you stop and develop a plan first.  A recent article, “Contemplation and conversation: Subtle influences on moral decision making”, and a new book, Wait: The Art and Science of Delay, both discussed by The Economist and one by  Smithsonian.com, support that advice for additional, compelling reasons.

“Contemplation” concludes that experiments show that slowing down will make us act more ethically.  OK. So, assuming that is correct, what does that mean for CI? It means that thinking through your needs and your best approach before you start will minimize the chances that you will cross (or be forced to cross) ethical lines. Not a bad payback for doing it right in the first place.

Wait deals with the benefits of active (that is good) procrastination. The author, Professor Partnoy, offers the supported view is that snap decisions are inherently poor. He advocates determining the “longest amount of time” you can take before doing something (like drawing a conclusion from your research) and then to “delay the response or decision until the very last possible moment. If it is a year, wait 364 days. If it’s an hour, wait 59 minutes.”

For a CI project, this translates into (a) beginning your research after you have finished all of the planning for it, and (b) then, drawing a conclusion only when you absolutely have to.

So instead of “I want it all, and I want it now” (Queen, 1989), think “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread” ( Johnny Mercer, 1940 and Alexander Pope, 1709).