Multi-pass processes

If you’re testing something (software code, a web page, whatever), it’s often helpful to use multiple passes to accomplish your task. The first thing you want to know is: Is it grossly wrong, or basically okay? Then, once you know that it MIGHT be working as expected (as opposed to “definitely not working”), you can take another pass at the next level of detail. And so on. In two or three passes it’s obvious whether you should continue on into the details or stop to fix something wrong at a higher level. The is the fastest path to completing testing, and many other forest & tree activities.
In a way, this is like the trick that excellent math students use to add a column of numbers. People who are “good with math,” when presented with a column of numbers to add, will go from left to right, adding all the big numbers first, and adjusting them as the smaller numbers overflow.
For example:
We’re taught in school to add the right-most column first (8+8+7+9). Carry over the digits greater than 9, and move on the the second-right-most column (3+7+1+2). But math experts all seem to add the left-most column first (4+3+1) and then move to the second-left-most column (2+6+2+8). This “most significant digit” approach is exactly the opposite of what we’re taught in school, and it’s very similar to a multi-pass testing regimen. The general idea is to start with the most significant information, and then move to the next-most significant information, etc.
The next time you start a task, survey the situation and try a multi-pass approach. Most likely, you’ll be done faster, and with greater confidence in your results.