We want quality, not quantity!

I’ll try my best to keep this post clear, concise and useful. I say that because I have VERY strong opinions about this subject at the moment due to similar experiences.

Story #1: The plane that was destined to crash –

Air Force One 2-Ch Radio Remote Controlled RC Airplane Ready to Fly

My son purchased this RC airplane from nitroplanes.com and the plane's flight path started with a 
with a throw while ending with a crash. We followed all instructions completely, but unfortunately 
this plane from its very design was destined for the garbage bin. Here are my observations:

- The plane has no wheels so the only way to land is on the fuselage.
- The plane is quite heavy (for Styrofoam) and the engines (even with fully charged batteries) 
  don't have enough power to lift the heavy plane.
- Let us fantasize for a moment! Lets assume the plane could actually lift off into the blue sky
  (as advertised). We all know what goes up must come down. Nearly EVERY SINGLE landing
  we had when trying to get this thing to take off ended with the wings breaking off!
  We had to crazy glue the wings back in place for subsequent attempts.
- My poor 9 year old son lost $66.00 (shipping included) and is sceptical of all
  flying toys.

Story #2: The GP2x Wiz

My eldest son purchased this multi-purpose open source based mp3 player. While enjoying its
wonderful features for a few weeks we noticed a newer shinier firmware release on the
company website sporting performance improvements and bug fixes. After following
instructions (to the exact detail) we ended up with a bricked device. I have sent
an email to the retailer in hopes for an exchange (which I am told by supporters on IRC that
it should be no problem). The Wiz is definitely an excellent device but the quality of the firmware
upgrade process (for a homebrew based device) should certainly not end in a bricking!

Story #3: Work Hard not Smarter

In a fictitious environment where software engineers and managers and quality assurance
all work together to make the finest products, comes doubt. In this "historical fiction"
bob has been nearly brain washed into believing in agile development methodologies and
TDD (Test Driven Development). While working in his little bubble world, bob and his close 
associates experience tremendous results under a highly motivating manager that supports
this bubble team 85% of the way (hey 85% isn't bad). Years pass by and the team is doing
quite well, but the team also switches to a new and more darkened "traditional" environment
where everything "has been done that way for the past x years".

The team is basically starting over from scratch learning new languages, products, processes
and culture. During this new adventure many difficulties arise but more importantly the
team begins to believe less and less in the doctrine since no-one seems to be following it
(like they are trying to do, of course not perfect). Finally things culminate to a meeting
where managers (and high managers) decide to dismantle what fragile safety guards were in place
and the message comes loud and clear... "work harder, not smarter".

You see the idea of productivity and performance can mean a whole world of difference
between different people and environments (and i'm not talking about code I'm talking
project metrics here). Its very easy for a software engineer to "close more bugs" but
the question is how many more has he created, and did he actually fix the real problem?

I don't want to get philosophical here because I don't feel it is required. Sometimes
the simplicity of the truth suffices. In this historical fiction bob is not disturbed
by the fact that the message is "word harder not smarter" but rather that the official
message is "work smarter not harder" but the truthful message is the opposite. Bob
thinks we should be honest with ourselves and at least admit to the truth. If people
want more with less quality then say so. Of course they don't want more with less 
quality they want more with higher quality, but unfortunately it all takes time
to invest, which also costs more at some point.

Bob understands at the end of the day things must be done "on time". What bob doesn't
understand is how people who never actually do the work can set the definition of
"on time" without asking those who will do the work. But then again for bob its just 
a job and thats all. There are limits to how much effort you can afford to help improve
things, especially when bob feels that maybe they don't want it improved?

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Mark my words, the issue of quality will define those who are successful from those who
are not in the next two decades.


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