I was sat with a developer in my team the other day. He was trying to put some functionality into an existing site. Impressively he had drawn out the flow and logic for the problem so it was all laid out in front of us. He described several ways of handling the GET and POST requests needed to implement what he had in mind. The stumbling block was that he didn’t like the solution that seemed the clearest and most simple. It seemed too simple, to the point where it felt like there must be something wrong with it. Thanks to the diagram and his description of the solution I couldn’t see any better way of doing it. I spoke relatively little and asked why he thought his solution was flawed?
After a few minutes we both agreed he had the answer, at this point he was convinced I had told him the solution and how to implement it. The truth is I hadn’t, he had it all along. He just needed to be convinced that he wasn’t missing something and that simple can be right.
I told him he had solved it, it was all his work, I just listened and asked a couple of questions.
No, you just did some kind of Jedi mind trick on me to make me think it was my idea.
A developer I used to work with called it the “cardboard cutout”, the person you are helping talks to you, you either just listen or ask the odd question. This usually flushes out any issues and helps arrive at the best solution. No mind tricks, no persuasion, nothing but a few minutes of geeky goodness.
We are using this technique more and more to work together, improving the understanding and quality of what we are building.