Skipping steps

When I was in primary school, I have this problem of doing mental sums. Calculations done in my head that I didn’t write on paper in my answer scripts. When the teacher marks my script, she’d penalise me for “skipping steps”. Well, those steps were taken but just not on paper.

It is very different in the real world where we also get penalised for skipping steps:

  • Trying to submit an application without sufficient documentation
  • Rushing to give customer a proposal without first understanding what is truly needed by them
  • Booking your vacation without thoroughly checking your calendar for conflicting commitments

In all of these cases, steps were indeed skipped, intentionally or not. And there are going to be consequences to them. Often, the time or money saved may not be worth it to deal with the consequences.

However, if you are able to perform those steps through other means which is more efficient and brings other benefits, such as what I did in school with math problems, then you can still get to the results well and good. That’s actually useful in the real world. The nuance that we need to learn from this childhood lesson is that you can short-circuit a process only when you can address every step adequately.