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Sunday, March 11, 2018

Seeing is believing or is it?

Quality is something we all want in our products. A product that delivers what was promised and what we expected, won't break when used, is consistent in use, is easy to use and pleasant to look at, and so forth.  We who are involved with product development and product delivery know that quality takes time. So, a constant plaint of those who work on the development side is that management never allocates enough time for quality. Management just wants the product delivered to beat or meet the competition, or to meet some agreed on deadline with a client or customer.  And, worst of all, management many times seems to think that a product is ready for delivery when the developers know it is not so.  Why don't they see it? 
They actually do, and that is a source of the problem in software.  Most managers today come from a non-software background.  Their familiarity with software extends to the apps and systems they use regularly.  They generally hail from a hard product background - physical cell phones, cars, computer hardware, clothing, buildings, and so forth.  When they see the product ready for delivery, a building, a car, a table, they can see the defects and if they cannot, the product is considered ready to go.
With software we can demonstrate a feature or function working well. Management sees the screen and the actions taking place and sees some results. Therefore, like the table with no scratches, it is ready for delivery.  It is difficult to convince someone who sees something working before his or her eyes that there may be issues lurking behind the screen.  That is what the cognitive behaviorists call dissonance.  Our minds must come up with a way of explaining it all.  And, since management has a vested interest in getting the product out, confirmation bias kicks in and management resolves the dissonance by ignoring the issues of lack of quality and rejects the request for additional time to fix something management cannot see.
The end result?  Products delivered with less quality that we would like.
I don't know the answer other than to make the product break in front of management's eyes, and that introduces a whole lot of other, rather unpleasant issues. But at least we can solace ourselves in knowing that there is a human explanation for the conundrum, if such solace helps at all.

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