Giving Good Directions

Giving good directions is hard. One reason I enjoy using GPS in my car is that it bypasses the poor directions that other people tend to give. Giving good directions demands an objective frame of mind so that the instructions are not dependent upon any one person’s experience or frame of reference. Most of us have probably done some kind of team building exercise where one group looks at a shape and then tells another group that has not seen the shape how to build that shape. The resultant blob bears little resemblance to the original, and the team learns their lesson about communication. Giving good directions is hard.

I took an introductory course to computer programming in college. I did not have a knack for it. Computers only follow the directions one gives to them to follow and they do so precisely. They do not intuit things well. What I found was that my mind was not always clear about the way it thought. My mind made leaps, carried assumptions, and drew conclusions. Turning my intentions into good directions the computer could follow was hard.

Ikea furniture. Online tech support. Assembling a toy on Christmas Eve. Hiking a new trail. Filing taxes. Taking multiple medications at home. It’s a wonder we can do any of those things.

Taking church online involves articulating several different sets of directions to several different groups of people with precision. Even when I know what it is we are doing and what we want to accomplish, giving good directions is hard. I find that after I have written a detailed set of directions I am physically tired from keeping my leaps, assumptions, and conclusions behind a door that doesn’t lock.

What what kinds of directions are you giving these days?

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