Inevitably as I discuss modeling and requirements, I find myself discussing The “Martin the Moron” Effect. And that’s important enough that I wanted to revisit it here.
The “Martin the Moron” Effect is as simple as this: I want to hear “Martin, you’re a moron” on day 2 of a 200 day project; because if I don’t, then it’s almost guaranteed that on day 500, I’ll hear, “Martin, you’re a moron, and we’re not paying for this!”
Early modeling is not about being right; it’s about being wrong, but in interesting ways. It’s all about drawing models the best you can, knowing that you’ll get them wrong, because you’re counting on your stakeholders to tell you what’s wrong. These early models are about soliciting feedback from clients and others so that you can make the models better.
This is important to keep in mind. You won’t get every detail right the first time. This can be very liberating, because some people are reluctant to draw anything when they don’t know the right thing to draw. Well, draw something! Maybe it will help you think about the problem and you’ll draw something better than you expected; but most assuredly, it will give you something to take to the stakeholders for feedback.
And be very leery if they tell you the diagrams are fine the first time. That’s usually a sign that they didn’t actually read the diagrams. Sometimes it’s a sign that you bullied them into accepting your “brilliance”. Either one is a recipe for disaster. You’re not supposed to be fine or brilliant right now. You’re supposed to be a moron.