Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships
— Ross Perot
Have you ever cursed at technology? If you’ve used a device of any complexity lately, you have.
You might wonder at how far technology has come. You might enjoy it. You might not. But I’ve noticed one overriding thing in most of technology lately; Quality has fallen.
Sure there are a few exceptions. Medical, Scientific, Aerospace, Automotive, Financial and other similar sectors of the industry have increased quality. But not always. In each of those sectors few organizations have managed to improve their quality, but most have not.
On the whole, in my nearly 45 years since I’ve written my first computer program, the industry has churned out disappointment after disappointment. You’ve likely seen or noticed it. And the pace of disappointments has accelerated.
But why is that? It’s my belief there are many reasons. Not all of them are easily quantified. But unlike many industries like manufacturing, computer science is still more of an art than a science. In these pages, I’ll try to show why I believe that trying to reduce it to a science, like Henry Ford did years ago, is one of the primary reasons why quality has suffered.
People aren’t cogs in a machine. Computer science is still not the same as running an assembly line. And it might never be. I believe that in the sectors of computers where organizations have attempted to reduce it as such, they have found that quality and final outcomes to have decreased. And yet most organizations wonder why. Sure there are places in computer science to apply such principles, and there are good paradigms in place. But we’re not completely there yet.
To find out, I believe we have to consider how computer hardware and software is made. We need to treat the industry as occupying a special spot in the scheme of things. And then we need to examine who and how those things are developed and produced. Specifically, we need to look at the humans who perform those things… In detail.
Most people when they endeavor to create their first computer program, write something called a Hello World program. It’s purpose is to allow the programmer to see quick and nearly immediate results of the program they wrote. It’s a very simple thing, which only instructs the computer to show the words “Hello World!” on a screen, printer or other output device.
For some the results of seeing this are disappointing. They might shrug their shoulders and say “So What.” But for others, like me … the nerds of this planet, they are hooked. The thought of teaching and commanding a machine to do nearly anything you want becomes apparent. And so it goes from there.
In the posts that follow I’ll write about my 45 years of experiences in both the hardware and software sides of computers and technology. I’ll explain a little of the history of them. Then I’ll attempt to show the human side of the people who create those things and what makes them tick.
Organizations who understand, foster and support those people will succeed and prosper. They will go on to create something Good. Those who don’t, but somehow still survive will create something that’s just Good Enough. Which organization do you want to be?