The Quality Carousel

I just observed yet another conversation on twitter that started with the topic of waste in software development, brought in value as an arbiter between waste and necessity, and then quality as a modulator of value. Surely a practice that increases quality also increases value, and therefore cannot be considered waste.

These discussions seem to spin in circles. They always have, and likely always will. Why? Because they treat quality and value as attributes of what is built, rather than as relationships. I like Jerry Weinberg’s definition in Quality Software Management:Systems Thinking.

“Quality is value to some person.”

This does not bring agreement to the discussions of value and quality. It does bring a different focus to them. Who is the person that matters? I can tell you who that is. (Continued)

What is Design?

I see many discussions get heated or go in circles when the topic is “design.” In the field of software development, what is design? (Continued)

More on Agile Usability

I recently wrote about Agile Usability.  Now I find an article on StickyMinds, “Getting Agile With User-Centered Design,” by Jon Dickinson and Darius Kumana.  They talk about a number of issues that can come up.  My favorite bit is this:

We must actively challenge the mindset of divided responsibility–” You spec and design it; we’ll build what you spec.” Everyone should work toward the shared vision of a successful experience.

That says so elegantly what I tried to say in my article.

Agile Usability

If I had time, I would re-read Tom DeMarco’s book Slack: Getting Past Burnout, Busywork, and the Myth of Total Efficiency, because I have precious little slack in my own life, these days.  So it is that I just now got around to reading Jakob Nielsen’s article, Agile Development Projects and Usability, which William Pietri noted on the Agile Usability list on November 17.

The statement

“For a project to take interaction design and usability seriously, it must assign them ‘story points’ (i.e., resources) on an equal footing with the coding”

jumped out at me.  Alistair Cockburn wrote a thoughtful reply where he noted the same statement.  I agree with Alistair’s comments, but I’d like to comment on this statement from a slightly different perspective. (Continued)

A funny thing happened today

I applied for a new credit card. I wasn’t in the market for a new credit card. I shred credit card offers almost daily. No one sent me an offer that I found too irresistible. No, the funny thing is that my current credit card bank spent money and went to a lot of trouble to convince me to open an account somewhere else.

It sounds very odd, doesn’t it?

Now I happen to know that this particular bank has worked to embrace Agile software development. I know people who have worked with them to do so. And I’m sure that, considering the size of the organization, they’ve made great strides in improving their software development practice. Yet the events that transpired today tell me that they’re missing an important feedback loop–arguably THE important feedback loop–the one that involves the customer.

Here’s what happened: (Continued)