Obvious/Oblivious

(Revised: 1/2015)

As a process guy, I often hear the term “common sense”. It’s a strange term. Like “luck” it’s a concept that generally brings an end to inquiry, because it’s a reference to magic. “That’s just common sense” seems to be a signal that “I haven’t thought about that, and I’m not prepared to talk about it, either.”

Same with the word “obvious”, sometimes. When you ask a technical question about a product and a developer says that the answer is obvious, you can generally count on that to mean that he hasn’t discussed the matter with anyone. Not discussing it, the team is likely to be oblivious to risks associated with it, if there are any.

It is the tester’s duty to keep an eye on things that seem unimportant, yet might be important after all.

Just because something about a product is obvious to one person, doesn’t mean it’s obvious in the same way to everyone. It may be especially non-obvious to a user.

The obvious leads to the oblivious, and that makes me nervious.

3 thoughts on “Obvious/Oblivious

  1. Another translation of “obvious” is “I can’t articulate that”.

    One of the things I find hardest is extracting why one particular solution is “obvious” to an expert practitioner. The “obvious” solution is correct, it’s just that the process that led to it is no longer open to introspection (if it ever was) in the experts head.

    (and gosh darn it I really hate “common sense” too 😉

  2. Along with “obvious” and “common sense”, we need to mention the utterance “it goes without saying”–which phrase I have always enjoyed because it *makes explicit* the silence, and then claims to end it.

    Even then, the potential cognitive slip is, of course, that other things remain which might have also gone without saying.

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