Aristotle’s Oysters!?

Fri 9 January 2015

For 2,000 years students of science believed that Aristotle, the 4th century Greek natural philosopher, had nailed the topic of natural science – read no further they thought, there’s nothing else to learn!

In his “History of Animals”, Aristotle reckoned that oysters were spontaneously created from water and mud, so whilst many of the things that he wrote and said were correct, they were mixed in with other things that were just plain wrong.

Whilst this of course is fascinating for those studying ancient scientific method, for those of us in HR Tech we can take away one additional important fact – Aristotle didn’t do any testing.

We can see that if the great man had only popped down to the beach - and it’s not far from Athens to the sea really…. - he would have been able to pick up some live oysters, talked to fishermen, taken some home and monitored them.

Life is full of phrases and sayings about testing. “Trial and error”, “practice makes perfect” – and Aristotle’s own deeply ironic phrase, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them”.

How you plan and set up your activities along with how you incorporate testing and pilot opportunities will make or break your project.

A large amount of valuable information can be gained on the very practical experiences of new services, processes or activities simply by trying them first.

When the human species first picked up a stone to break a nut they probably didn’t break it the first time... deploying to live systems, to real customers and users will be about as hit-and-miss as for that ancestor.

Consider the following in your test planning:

  • User experience, is it simple to follow? Simple to repeat? And simple to remember without guidance?
  • Measurable result? Does the item produce the correct measurable results? The “measurable” bit is vital; can you see through each stage of the process with the test and clearly follow the action taking place?

So don’t be like Aristotle and assume that something you see or something you can imagine is as straightforward as it might appear.