The Hunch: 4 Times I Felt It And 1 When I Didn't, And What Were The Consequences

Elena on August 29, 2018

This post was originally published in my blog I sometimes have this feeling: The Hunch™. It's when I sense there is something ... [Read Full]
markdown guide

Heh... Reading these scenarios, all I can think is, "this is the time for the Stupid Question™!"

In truth, the Stupid Question generally isn't a stupid question. It's the, "something smells funny, I'm going to keep asking questions — frequently the same question restated multiple ways — until either the smell goes away or others start to notice the smell, too." Which is to say, keep seeking answers until the questions been clearly and consistently satisfied or the barrage of questions reveal that, wait, maybe this plan wasn't so well thought through.

Restatement and summarization is a powerful tool in ensuring any action-plan or project is actually well thought out and contingencies accounted for.


Try to think about the problem from all angles.

It's easier said than done. Generally, one can't be careful enough. 😌


Trying to do so is already a good start! It is like writing unit-tests for a logical problem. You list positive cases, negative cases, you also test other classes this change could touch, etc.

With time, one becomes better in that, and starts to "anticipate" problems even before thinking consciously.


I keep asking what is important and why is it important. It's very high level but it's fairly objective and client driven at times (the why we're doing x project) and it keeps me out of the weeds on details sometimes.

It's hard to find the balance and I think it'a a big challenge for what we do.


Thanks Elena! I like your "ask questions" approach, keep trusting your intuition!


Intuition is questioned. When it is I back up with data when I can. Sometimes it's really strong and I don't know why. I feel it guides me to look in places others haven't looked.

I've been trying to find ways to show it to others and so far some collection tools for theming and analysis has been a thing.

I feel the curiosity and discovery is strong which fuels intuition... or is it the other way around? Maybe they influence each other.

I do data collection or "feeling it out" early when folks want to jump to the tech... so I feel you when you talk about learning first. People want action now or yesterday.

How do you make that work? I think you may have thoughts on this that are maybe different than mine.

How do we show our intuition in a bigger plan? How do we also use it well?


Thanks for your reply, Kat. It seems like you have The Hunch too. That's nice! :)

I'm not sure I have it figured out 100% :). I still struggle sometimes with how to make other people believe me, or how to teach them thinking before doing. By sharing this post, I wanted to help people look at the task more intensely, and to show what happens when they don't.

I don't think saying "I sense..." or "my intuition tells me..." helps. This sounds like magic, and can be easily rejected with "well, my intuition tells me something different". I think what helps, is explaining that this is based on your (years of) experience, and in similar situations you usually see this or that set of problems. I.e.: "when making a large code change, people usually forget about backwards compatibility, so we should think about it", or something like that.

Further, just like you said, I think that supporting your claims with data helps. It is hard to argue with data.

I also find that it helps to methodically lay it out to people - basically, in a list with bullet points. I.e.: "we still have to figure out: a), b), c); and in c) I usually meet a lot of problems which may delay us a lot; so why don't we think about c) in advance".

Do you have other tips or ideas? I'd love to hear them!

P.S. What do you call "the hunch"? :))


Developer Investigator, that's what most experienced devs are.

It seems you had the trait much earlier, nice article Elena!

code of conduct - report abuse