Ships in the Night

There is a delightful pattern in collaborative design I usually label “ships in the night.”

Two designers posit different solutions to the problem. Mr. A advocates plan A, and Mr B advocates plan B. They debate the merits of their respective plans and then adjorn.

During the night Mr. A thinks about the merits of plan B. Mr. B thinks about the merits of plan A. They both begin to come around to the other guys position. They think how noble it would be to give in.

They also puzzle a bit on the cost of their plan. Mr. A begins to think about how hard his plan really is. Mr. B thinks about his plan’s complexity. They both begin to become a bit fearful of their plan. They think what a burden it would be to own the plan, particularly one that was in dispute.

The next morning they return to the discussion to discover they have switched sides. Ships in the night.

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