Mike’s Dump

July 31, 2007

Passion for Quality

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 3:11 pm

I get pissed off sometimes. Actually if you read my blog I get pissed off maybe more than I should. One thing that really gets me fired up is quality or to be more accurate a lack of quality.

I know very little about house painting. I do know when the job is done I don’t want it to be streaky, I don’t want my baseboards dripped on, and I don’t want my ceiling marked up. A professional that takes pride in their work wouldn’t need to be told this. A professional would realize that their reputation of producing quality work is worth far more than their current job.

I believe this applies to pretty much any profession. Professions that are regulated or have their work inspected afterwards are not exempt. If anything these professions have to maintain a minimum standard otherwise it is unlikely they will survive.

Now, look at the software industry. There is no regulatory body, nobody is going to revoke your “development license” and far too often the quick response is “why didn’t QA find it”? When I’m talking about software industry I’m not talking specifically about the quality of the code. I think there is a million and one posts related to improving code quality. In this case I’m only referring to what the customer sees because I have seen time-and-time again that documented requirements don’t work.

Ya, ya, ya, I know, “but developers make lousy testers because they test it the way they know it was implemented.” I’m sure we have all heard that one before and I’ll accept that to a certain point but again, consider any other profession.

Let’s consider a mechanic. Let’s say you took your car in to have the battery replaced because the car wouldn’t start. After the battery was changed wouldn’t you expect the mechanic to at least start the car before giving it back to you? If they didn’t do this very basic test to ensure your issue was resolved wouldn’t you start to question if you brought your vehicle to a professional? If you are the mechanic and said, “well I don’t know. I used that battery in another car and it worked fine”… not helping your cause.

Some might dress up otherwise but I still believe that developers are human. Everyone makes mistakes (I make a crap load!) and mistakes are a great learning opportunity. I believe the professional with a passion for quality will continue to learn from their mistakes, grow and earn a reputation for producing quality.

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July 26, 2007

Change

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 12:52 pm

Developers are a funny bunch. We normally applaud consistency but our world is anything but consistent. It seems everyday there is a new tool, library, or pattern hot off the presses that we have to try to incorporate into our toolbox. For some, this level of change keeps software development fun and exciting.

In most cases people don’t embrace change this easily. I have been thinking about a few changes over the years that have been more challenging than others. After reading this I believe I see why some attempts at change haven’t been as successful as anticipated. In some cases I believe what has lacked is “Being Vigilant” and “Acknowledging Success”.

I don’t think you need to beat people regularly to “Be Vigilant” but it is so easy for people to revert back to old habits. Speaking for myself I know at times I have fallen backwards. Some of the excuses I have told myself:

  1. I don’t have time
  2. It doesn’t apply it this case
  3. It won’t generate value
  4. I didn’t really buy in
  5. It’s too much work
  6. I forgot

Looking at my own excuse list it is pretty easy to see I’m not ready for “self-governance”.

Looking carefully at what “Being Vigilant” says I think sometimes we neglected to set a goal other than “to be better”. It is harder to acknowledge success when the success criterion is fuzzy. Maybe having clear goals could have made a difference or at very least made the journey easier.

July 24, 2007

Trust

Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 12:02 pm

I read this post over at Slacker Manager the other day that really made me think. To get the context of this post you’ll have to go give it a read. It is ok, I’ll wait.

The culture of Blind Obedience

To get to the point, this culture really pisses me off. I hate most processes but having one rammed down my throat or being told to “just do it” really rubs me the wrong way. I think there will always be those people out there that take this approach but I won’t work for one.

The culture of Informed Acquiescence

I think I can say the majority of the jobs I have had in the software industry have fallen into this category. A number of times I have run into challenges working with other teams, not because they are being difficult but because they are working towards their own goals that may not align with mine. The problem here is not with one of the teams but both. An organization should be moving the same direction guided by a shared vision and objectives.

The culture of Self-governance

Ahhh self-governance, the perfect culture right? In theory I love it and that is where I want to be. I want to be in a position where I have the tools and authority so I can exceed expectations. This requires knowledge to be shared freely so informed decisions can be made by all which are guided by organizations goals.

But, and it is a big but. Would it work? Like most things in the workplace it boils down to the people you work with. Think about the people you work with now, would you want to give everyone the power that could make or break the project or the company?
I’m not discounting the newbie. I think everyone needs the chance to learn through their own experiences. I would have more trust in an eager newbie than someone that has a few years of experience but is completely task driven (i.e. needs to be told what task should be done after task A, B, and C).

Maybe I’m just not a very trusting person. Maybe it is just because I haven’t been a part of a self-governed culture. Maybe it has been just too damn hot and I’m grumpy but I’m not buying in that a pure self-governance culture would work in most cases.

What I believe the author of this post saying is the driving factor in these cultures is trust. Trust however, isn’t just being trustworthy; trust also includes trust of competency. You might have the most open an honest doctor but if your doctor tells you they feel faint every time they perform a surgery would you still trust them with your life? When there is a lack of trust you get more process.

Additional Process does not equal Addition Trust

Additional Process equals a poor substitute for trust.

July 20, 2007

Parenting 102

Filed under: Kids — mikesdump @ 4:18 pm

The other day my parenting skills were put to the test. Isabelle and Erika were fighting (surprise, surprise) and after several minutes of unsuccessfully trying to block them out I thought maybe I should do something. Usually I wait until there is crying or silence. If there is crying it usually means one of them got their way. If there is silence then one of them could be suffocating the other.

As I got closer to hear what they were arguing about I heard something like this:

Erika: It’s my TV
Isabelle: No, It’s my TV
Erika: NO, IT’S MY TV
Isabelle: NOOOOO, IT’S MY TV

I’m sure you get the idea. Using my King Solomon like wisdom I yell down:

NO, IT’S MY TV!

If that didn’t work then I would just split the TV in half. Easy!
Can you believe some people think it is hard to be a parent´┐Ż sheesh!

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