CAD Management: Circles of Least Confusion

In the world of optics and photography, there is a realization that perfect focus is an ellusive goal.  In actuality many think that trying to get any man-made optical device to sharpen an image to perfection is unachievable.   Photographers actually use this inability to define depth of field settings to achieve effects that enhance the viewer’s perception of the image they create.

I hate to mention the next fact because it might annoy you when watching a movie or TV…  Directors may change focus during conversations based on the desired conversational transitions taking place between someone in the foreground and someone in the background. When exaggerated enough, you will notice that as the conversation moves from one character to the next, the first character may go slightly out of focus and then return to focus when the dialog returns to them.

The best that some think can be done with these circles of confusion in optics is to reduce the area of blur in the image.  Dialing down the blur to the smallest possible dispersion so that the smallest blur is perceived by the human eye as a point.   This is called the Circle of Least Confusion.

Balancing the efforts to refine the focus (which is harder and harder to do the smaller the allowed blur) and the level of effort it takes to make the image crisp involves three areas that must be taken into account: Visual Acuity, Viewing Conditions, and the Enlargement of the Image.

These three issues depend on the ability of the viewer to see well enough to focus and the conditions of the environment in which the image is viewed, such as lighting, distance, and any enlargement made to the original image.

Using this concept as a starting point, let’s jump over to management.  In its essence, management is working with people to get something done.  When working with people, directions, concepts and processes need to be conveyed effectively.  The circles of least confusion when communicating become critical in providing a picture of what is to be achieved. 

Back in April of 2011, I shared some ideas on communicating with others so I will not rehash those.  You can read that article here.  What I want to discuss in this issue is finding your circles of least confusion when preparing to convey what is in your head to another person or group.

Visual Acuity
Get an understanding of the other person’s level of focus. Others may not be able to understand the situation or concern that you express.  They may never see it.  Many others have no idea of the entire breadth of what a CAD Manager has to take into account when deciding what to do.  They are unable to see all the things that you might see and therefore may be unable to focus enough to make the tough calls.

Viewing Conditions
Get an understanding the other person’s situation. They may not have the time to focus on your issues.  They may not care about the topic.  They may underestimate the need for the level of focus you are providing on the issue. Their perception of you and the topic under discussion matters.  Their situation may impact your ability to get them on board.  If they have a negative bias against your ideas or the way you present them, it will be harder to communicate. 

Enlargement of the Issue
Get an understanding of how much impact the issue will have on your colleagues or the firm.  This issue may not actually be something that impacts their production or job functions and they see it as your problem.  They may ask, “What’s the big deal?  CAD Standards don’t matter.”  They may perceive it as someone else’s problem.  They may not realize what can happen if the issue is not corrected.  They may need to discuss larger issues or more refined detail - and you need to know these angles.  Go in the wrong direction and it might frustrate others.

All of these issues or conflicts can derail your efforts to get a valid point across.  Be sure to take into account all three items and know that their response to you may not return the same level of effort you are taking to explain it.  Take your time and explain things at the level that they need to understand.  If they are not understanding it, get their permission to move forward as you see best.  If they do not want to move, then ask what it might take to get them to focus on the topic at the level that is needed.

Permission, approval, agreement, assistance, cooperation, removing roadblocks - all of these involve you making the issues, options and resolutions clear so that you can refine the focus of others on outstanding items. This way, you can move forward.  Achieving the Circles of Least Confusion that work for you can be done with a little more effort on your part.

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