In the queue I have 3 requests to further define some vocabulary.

  • Work or working

The English language is confusing in that words can mean many things.  This is true in many languages (except programming languages…) and that is a topic for another time.

Work (as it will be defined here) is not to be confused with the act of working…  like…  when you are trying to please your lover in bed.

Thats a totally different sort of work.

What I wish to address here is the question of whether or not a Machine or System “works”, whether that is a binary function or a scale, and whether it is absolute or relative.

First and foremost:

  1. The concept of something “working” is ALWAYS relative.  There is no such thing as something “Absolutely working”.  Its a major fallacy…  held by many who are not builders…  to think that something “works or does not work”.

To state that something “works” is to (in this context) state that it meets a set of requirements or expectations.

Strangely – …   even if something meets a set of “standards”…  that does not (most certainly does not…) mean that it “works”, for the simple reason that the standards are a gross generalization and (99.99% of the time) the standards are not a super set of what is required for something to function properly for the period of time intended.

If I want to state that something works (binary or scaled) I have to have a test in place to determine this.

Without a test…  to determine that requirements are met…  then what we have is “Working” as opposed to “works”

Its a fine line…  but there is (most certainly) a measurable and demonstrable difference between “getting something working” (which is the threshold between unknown/high risk and known/low risk) and stating something works (which is the finish line)

So – we have defined Works as a relative measure.  It is not an absolute.

We have stated that any relative measure must be in reference to something fixed (measuring against moving targets is …  and advanced subject)

We have defined gates…  Not working, Working, Works

We have associated risk level:  High, Low, Legacy



2)  Binary vs Scale

When evaluating whether something works we can address it in two ways.  I prefer Binary…  for the simple reason that it avoids the slippery slope of scale…  where scale involves judgement.

It is not always clean…  but we try to make it clean.

To create a binary from a scale we select limits.  Above this…  works.  Below that…  does not work.  In the middle…  we MUST always have a gray area.

The purpose of the gray area is to stop folks from attempting to inch up on a limit.  There must be hysteresis between “Pas and Fail” (tho School does not teach you this sadly)

SO…..  in this middle area…  between WORKS and DOES NOT WORK…  or PASS and FAIL…  we have ->  Ambiguity.

It neither works not does not work.

We want to minimize landing in this spot…  as it is by definition a transition…  so think of it as a rest area or edge on a switching signal.  You may find yourself there for a moment or two…  but if you find yourself wallowing here…  what is most likely happening… is an unwillingness to admit or accept Failure.

Failure is ok.  There is nothing inherently wrong with failure.  It is simply a state in the machine that you must pass on the way to Winning.  To not see it as simply that…  is to wrap riddles in metaphor and muddle the facts.

So – we have stated that we would like to avoid 0-10 scales…  and do this by saying something to the tune of 0-3 = FAIL, 4-6 = UNKNOWN, 7-10 = PASS

Something along those lines….  where we always error DOWN and never UP…  as a point of integrity…  and as a proof of margin.

(Margin is a whole new subject which requires pages)


3)  So now we are ready to state whether or not a machine “works” – since we have clearly defined success…  and the metrics for determining success (or progress toward success)

We always think in terms of vectors or acceleration.  Never a fixed point.  Never a dead end.  Never a conclusion.

Nothing is concluded until the fire sale..  and even then…  the coals are blown hot again in a new cave*

So – in my business – we state whether or not something works by using a framework.

In the best case we have a device which is a transfer function.  This device has inputs, it has a process, and it has outputs.  We can exhaustively prove that a device works by running (as near to) a full spectrum of inputs and evaluating outputs.  Of course…  the pass fail criteria from above is in place…  and we also consider inefficiency (processing time, heat, lost bits..)

Transfer functions are defined through requirements (ultimately) but more immediately through INTERFACE DEFINITIONS.

When you create a transfer function you define:

Valid Input

Invalid Input

Behaviors Expected

Outputs for a given input

Interface details (like pins or message formats)

(this area can be expanded…  but not now)

So….  lets say I have a widget.  Lets say this widget (SNIP – Need to get paid to give examples…  and I would just prefer to use a real example than a made up one)

Thats all I feel like writing about.

Just went out puddle jumping with my son.  While he romped around in the creek, down the creek, and in the ocean where the creek lets out….

I was lost in thought about my life experiences.

  • Walking through “dead zones” with remote control machine guns that are allowed and encouraged to shoot you.
  • Agreeing to do work under threat of death or imprisonment…  and uncovering horrific inefficiency
  • Answering just about every “Call out” from every peanut in the game…  so that I can look you in the eye…  and really tell you…  that I either understand the experiences you had…  or I understand the experiences you have yet to have or may never have.

Life is not measured in years

A fool believes that because he has grown a grey beard…  that he has earned his right.

He has earned a right…  but not THE right…  as THE….  is something that is earned through EXPERIENCES and those experiences are only loosely bound to the time domain.

I challenge you to this test:

“Do one thing that scares the shit out of you EVERY DAY”.  Do it for a week.  Do it for a month.  Do it for a year.  Do it for a decade.

Do it for decades.

Now…  stand before me.  A man who has tried his damnedest to push his limits for decades…  and …  tell me of your path.