Blueprints Don’t Have All the Decisions

by | Jun 29, 2021 | ICT4D |


Soon after moving into our house, we started talking with an architect about the dreams we had for it. There were must haves and nice to haves and of course budget limitations. After months of discussions and countless ideas proposed (and rejected), we had a full set of designs and drawings. Some went to the planners, others to suppliers and builders.

We thought we’d done all the hard work and all the decisions making was behind us.

And then we started building. And everyday there are hundreds of small (and big) decisions that need to be made by us and by our builders. We find a drainage pipe in the ground or there is more rubble and earth than we expected. Do we go around the pillars or cover them? The rain has damaged these electrics. Can we move the door six inches to the left? Where do you want the sockets, light switches, lights? And so on. Many decisions we make, some our builders do. Our builders decide what make sense to them but that’s different than what we want or expect. And sometimes it’s too late when we find out. And so it goes.

This is much like designing and building digital solutions. Designs are made, but there are always, always, countless decisions being made by those coding and building the product or system. And these decisions are made in a manner that makes sense to them. However, if those deciding all look the same, come from the same way of thinking, culture, life experience, they have enormous influence on how the final product or system functions. Intentionally, or unintentionally, their biases and cultural values will be encoded into the system.

In fact, this can not not happen. Therefore, it is essential we have diverse opinions and perspectives involved in the decision making everyday. In the details, the nitty gritty. This is essential work that can not be fobbed off as ‘below me’.

Just like I, our builder, my wife, the kids, the architect, engineers, and others see things differently. We experience the building differently, imagine it in our heads differently. So too do people create digital solutions. No one person ‘sees’ it all or has the ‘right’ view. We all see in part. We all have and bring our biases to the conversations. However, it is when we all show up, engage, assert, it is then we build better things.

The choice is up to us.

Photo by Ryan Ancill


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