Over-think it

Evan Samek
Sep 9, 2013 · 2 min read

“You’re over-thinking it” is a compliment. The person who utters such a sentiment doesn’t mean it to be a compliment, but it is one. Usually this is used as a way to get one to chill out on their thinkings. That they are applying a bit too much critical thought to the subject at hand. But why? Why is this a bad thing? Is it that over-thinking in itself is the bad thing or that doing it unchecked is what can lead us astray?

Why can’t I counter that sentiment with: “you’re not thinking enough about this”? Since when is applying critical thought a handicap?

It seems that our agile or lean or bootstrapped processes apply such pressure to a working group, that many times we succumb to the stress of complexity as a function of time left…and finally we simplify with many compromises. However, that simplification usually is inappropriate to apply at such an early point in time.

Project Managers & Engineering leads have a responsibility to simplify at the end of the day. But they are (should be) alone in that responsibility. Product Managers and UX Engineers need to over-think the task at hand. For if they don’t over think the task enough, they will be held responsible for a more irreversible path should their decisions and implemented paths not prove effective. This can lead to frequent changes of the user interface which, if too frequent, can cause a disruption to the mental model your users have developed of your system.

The concept of iterative change needs to crescendo from MVP (minimum viable product) to MEP (maximum excelling product). We don’t want to loose our positive metrics and momentum on the way to an MEP.

“Control the practical short-term while allowing a way forward for the long-term.”

The sentiment of “you’re over–thinking it” should be kept to those who are responsible for task management. Don’t dismiss the team members whose task is to “over–think” the problem at hand. Control the practical short-term while allowing a way forward for the long-term.Its a difficult balance to achieve, but if achieved can mean the difference between progress and churn.

    Evan Samek

    Written by

    User Experience Designer, Engineer & Composer

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