Quality Pays

Finally, I’ve started reading Deming

It took me too long to discover that I deliver more value, not by coding faster, but by focusing on quality. As a young programmer being assigned tasks as an individual I felt pressure to code fast. Just getting something working was an achievement. Untested the work would keep coming back with defects that I would patch up without taking time to get to the root of the problem. A team of testers tested and coders coded, neither improved quality. I was soon spending much more time fixing code than writing new code. It’s hard to imagine people choosing to work this way but it’s a system that is replicated all over the world.

As I grew more experienced and started writing tests that shaped my code, the defects dropped, but we still spent much of our time producing functionality that wasn’t being used. Without taking time to get feedback and discover what was really needed this waste took up much of our time. Everything we created that didn’t meet a need was effectively a defect that needed to be maintained or removed. The cost of doing the wrong thing is even greater than not doing things right.

I It took me so long to discover how insane this was because I was absorbed in a business culture of cutting corners in an attempt to deliver whatever’s being asked for, rather than thinking more deeply about what’s really needed. Alone I never really understood the damage this culture was doing; Deming could have helped.

When we came together and started working as team and took time to reflect, we quickly agreed on the need to improve quality. We started listening to those in the development community telling us how to do this. We spent more time refactoring, removing redundancy and reducing the liability of our technical debt. Working collaboratively, a culture of quality emerged, we supported each other, giving each other permission and encouraging each other to write better code. The team began to care more about the needs of our customer.

Pressure is the enemy of quality. Under pressure we stop thinking and just react. Reactions don’t have the foresight to consider quality. Managers pressurising teams to go faster instead of providing a clear vision, facilitating learning and encouraging a culture of continuous improvement is often the problem. Chase velocity it goes down. Chase quality and increased velocity emerges. Quality pays.

One comment

  1. Thank you. Rarely do people stand up remind us of basic truths. It is way to easy to say yes and avoid the pain of saying no and then suffer thought poor implementations later.

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