The Rule of Three Interpretations

Sep 30th, 2002 by Tony in QSM2

Whenever I’m aware that I’m making an interpretation, I have another choice: I can allow myself to know that more than one interpretation is possible. A good check on premature interpretation is the Rule of Three Interpretations:

If I can’t think of at least three different interpretations of what I received, I haven’t thought enough about what it might mean.

This rule slows down the Interpretation step and gives me, the receiver, a chance to engage my brain before using my mouth. Even after I have thought of three possible interpretations, however, I should always be aware of one more possibility: that my list still may not include your intending meaning.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 2, Chapter 6

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