A second set of eyes

Who wouldn’t want a second set of eyes? OK, it would double the cost of prescription eye glasses and designer shades, but still, being able to see things from two perspectives would be fantastic, if not a bit confusing.  For those of us with only the normal number of eyes, getting a second view on a vexing problem or even double checking one’s work can still be useful.

As a not completely irrelevant aside, in my copious free time I write fiction (as if writing business plans was something other than fiction…).  No risk that I will quit my day job—I’ve sold a total of three short stories over the past two years for a grand total that is in the low three figures.  One thing I have found about writing, however, is that it really helps to have someone else check one’s work—critique, edits, comments and the like. We get to close to our own work to see the flaws.  So like many writers I share “reads” with other writers—I critique their work and they critique mine.  And it works: no matter how good I think a story may already be, my writing buddies can always find flaws I’ve missed.

What is good for the goose is also good for the flock.  Teams and even companies also can benefit from a second set of eyes.  For years I’ve always insisted on bringing outside engineers into all my design reviews, engineers that are competent in the field but not on the project team.  In large companies we used to borrow engineers from another department /project team then repaid the favor in kind.  Smaller companies or smaller design teams often engage outside resources (warning—shameless plug) like Zebulon Solutions to participate in their design reviews or even conduct independent design assessments.  We’ve done more than a few of these over the past couple of years and frankly no matter how good our customer’s design team is—and many of them are world class—we always seem to find a few things that need changing. We’ve identified functional problems in RF and analog circuits, tolerance stackups that exceed specs, test gotchas, firmware goobers, manufacturability issues, and a whole  slew of cost down opportunities, just to name a few findings from such reviews over the past couple of years.

It’s not that we’re better engineers and we certainly don’t have the domain expertise, but being detached allows us the luxury of taking a fresh look, and to see the proverbial forest instead of trees. I suspect the same holds for almost any other competent independent reviewer. It’s a well proven technique Acropolis many industries, and the results more or less always more than covering the cost of the assessment or review.

Until we all master genetic mutation or eyeball grafting, this approach will have to do.


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