Quality Is Dead. Resuscitate It. II

James Bach came back with the second post of his "Quality is Dead" series. This time he’s talking about the myth of quality: That it can be built into the product by following practices.

He’s discussing the problems with how we perceive quality, and finally gives his own view:

"A product is a dynamic arrangement, like a garden that is subject to the elements. A high quality product takes skillful tending and weeding over time. Just like real gardeners, we are not all powerful or all knowing as we grow our crop. We review the conditions and the status of our product as we go. We try to anticipate problems, and we react to solve the problems that occur. We try to understand what our art can and cannot do, and we manage the expectations of our customers accordingly. We know that our product is always subject to decay, and that the tastes of our customers vary. We also know that even the most perfect crop can be spoiled later by a bad chef. Quality, to a significant degree, is out of our hands."

Sounds a lot like how Agile takes care of business. But notice the last sentence. I’ll simplify what I’m reading here: Quality is dead because it’s not in our hands. I’m sure James doesn’t mean that because it’s not in our hands, there’s no need to put effort in making what we perceive as quality products.

It comes back to what I wrote, about responsibility and commitment by everyone on the team, leading to Integrity. With more tests you write, code integrity will rise. With team members standing up to their word, team integrity will rise. And using these tools,  we’ll get to excellence (which quality embodies).

  • Thomas Eyde

    I have to admit I don’t understand his references to arrangements and quality, and how that explains quality can’t be built in. In the end someone has to actually build the product, and if that’s done poorly, the quality is gone. But building it well isn’t enough, we have to build the right thing. So quality also has to be designed in. People may arrange things as much as they want, but in the end every process has to build quality in.

  • Thomas Eyde

    I have to admit I don’t understand his references to arrangements and quality, and how that explains quality can’t be built in. In the end someone has to actually build the product, and if that’s done poorly, the quality is gone. But building it well isn’t enough, we have to build the right thing. So quality also has to be designed in. People may arrange things as much as they want, but in the end every process has to build quality in.

  • Gil Zilberfeld

    Thomas,

    I can’t really explain James, I’ll let him do that. I do know that as a project manager, we had processes, that we tried to follow. Until crunch-time came and all processes were out the window.

    So even if you bake the quality into your process, when people arrange things (the other way this time), you get low quality.

    I read it as – processes aside, people still do what they want. The best you can do is you need to stick to what works.

  • Thomas Eyde

    Which is why I would like to be part of a lean culture, where continuous improvement is simply the way things are done.

    In such an environment, I hope and dream, crunch-time never arrives because we have sorted out the issues a long time ago.

  • Thomas Eyde

    Which is why I would like to be part of a lean culture, where continuous improvement is simply the way things are done.

    In such an environment, I hope and dream, crunch-time never arrives because we have sorted out the issues a long time ago.

  • Gil Zilberfeld

    Thomas,

    I would agree in an ideal world. Our job is to strive to get to that ideal environment.

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