Error vs Sin
I have always wondered why producing an error is sometimes OR often treated as a sin. One of the major reason is the illusion that software development is somewhat similar to production. On the basis of this illusion, it is considered that:
- Errors can be eliminated.
- Humans can be treated as interchangeable parts.
- Processes can be followed blindly
The above and a lot more illusions can be associated within a production environment but not within development environment. For a thinking worker, making an occasional mistake is natural and healthy as well. But an error on job should be discriminated from a sin. One very clear definition says that errors can be recovered but a sin is not reversible. So if something is reversible that should not be considererd a sin.
For instance, if a product is designed and somehow design changes are required such that the older design need to be thrown away. Management tend to be very strict about it but it needs to understand that it is part of the design activity and that is what design phase is all about. Managers feel this would pose an impossible political problem for them. They seem to believe that they’d be better off using the same defective version even though it might cost more in the long run. Prevailing an environment that does not allow for error simply makes people defensive. They stop doing any experimentation and looking for new horizons. It happens usually when strict methodologies are imposed. Rather the people should be encouraged to make some errors by asking them what dead end roads they have been throw in their career. Think if any of your people says they have not produced any errors, it will make you feel the opponenet is either a dumb or making you a fool. All those dead end roads make up your experience after all.
Managers need to understand that they can kick the asses to make people active but not to make them creative. Creativity is required in every job that requires head rather than hand. Managers tend to adopt an attitude that everyone is replaceable. Using this mentality, it seems like manager may place an order in store like: “Send me a new Grady but make him less arrogant”. 🙂