Everyday Computing, Features

A Good Ending

By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant
By Dr. Lyndell St. Ville- ICT Consultant

THE proverb “a good beginning makes a good ending” has a timeless lesson. We typically yearn for a good end, so we should start by doing the things that lead to a good end. If we correctly plan and begin our activities, then we observe one of the “7 Habits” espoused by the author Dr. Stephen Covey: to begin with the end in mind.

Such thinking is well-established, especially for those who build or design: structures, software, or other systems. The very theory of computation is built on such a foundation! You may know of the expression: “garbage in, garbage out”, which warns that poor quality input produces poor quality output.

Thankfully, computer programmers can usually define what is expected by “good input” and reject as garbage, any input that does not match the right pattern. When a specification of good input is unavailable, unexpected problems may arise.

What do you do after bad decisions have already been made? Imagine being in a situation where you are dealing with a bad beginning, and still wish to make a good ending. Unfortunately, this is not a simple academic question. Consider the following examples:

* A patient coping with a non-communicable disease;
* An unwise leader emerging victorious in an election;
* A once-popular leader making bad decisions;
* A traveller following the wrong route;
* A broker investing in risky stock;
* A business hiring the wrong people.

The pain has already been inflicted, so the afflicted have a decision to make: to continue headlong, or to change course. If good sense prevails, there is recognition that something has already gone wrong and there is need for change. A good ending has begun.

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