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Do you realize what you have said?

NEWSLETTER ARTICLE

On a recent project we had the opportunity to come across the following requirement from a corporate engineering design standard Ė

"The design shall be completed and/or reviewed by competent, qualified individuals."

This struck me for two reasons:

(1) I found it odd that this would need to be explicitly stated, and

(2) the statement as written (with the "and/or" conjunction) does not require both individuals to be competent, only one or the other.

In a strict reading of the standard, the corporation allows an incompetent person to do either the design or the review, providing the other individual is competent. While I donít believe for a minute that the company ever intends to allow an incompetent person to work on a project, the standard, as written, does not preclude it. We all need to proofread what we write, not just for what we want it to say, but for what it actually says. As with any form of information transfer, we humans too often see what we expect to see, not what is really there.

Copyright © 1999 Beville Engineering, Inc.

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