This is not quality

We all know that market economy is not perfect but that the alternatives are worse. Right now I’m trying to wrap my brain around the fact that there are companies that seem to survive in a market economy despite apparent disregard for their customers. The example I currently have on my mind is CanalDigital, a Swedish satellite TV provider. They have a habit of calling their customers offering additional channels and other Continue Reading

Trust, transparency and Toyota

A recent article in The Economist [1] ascribed some of the economic and social success of the Nordic countries to a high level of trust. In the period of large-scale emigration of Swedes to America, they came to be known as “dumb Swedes” in the new country because their high level of trust in people. Today the descendants of these dumb Swedes still have higher that average trust in their fellow citizens Continue Reading

When do we need a project?

The project format is often the default way of organizing product development. Many organizations have elaborate processes for managing projects such as the UK Government’s PRINCE2 and Ericsson’s PROPS. Both are examples of the Stage-Gate process referred to in an earlier post. Sometimes the project format is warranted, sometimes it is not. I came to think of a rather old paper of which I have faded photo copy in my (physical) binder Continue Reading

Product, not project

The system development project is often used as the area of interest or scope when talking about processes, documents, maturity etc. Some concrete examples are: The CMMI maturity level 2 is achieved by defining a process for each project. A configuration management plan is often suggested to be written per project. Repositories for information items such as change requests and source code files are often set up per project. I’m speculating a Continue Reading

A false dichotomy

I often hear expressions such as “here we should define what we do, not how we do it”. These kinds of statements are in my opinion rather meaningless or at least ill-defined. Let’s take an example from the quality management domain. Some level of process or method description may be said to describe “what” (to do), not “how” (to do it). Typically a process description tells you to do, say, A, B Continue Reading

How to create and manage a useful operations manual

In the very first post on this blog I talked about operations manuals, i.e. descriptions of the prescribed or recommended way of working in an engineering organization. I fully acknowledge that very few people find this topic particularly exciting. Some knowledge management folks I talk to consider operations manuals a failed concept to start with. It’s all in the heads of the people they say. Some slide-ware-wielding types on the other hand Continue Reading

Understanding and misunderstanding the Stage-Gate model

Many project management models are based on Robert Coopers original Stage-Gate model [1][2]. My experience is that it is often misunderstood. Two common such misunderstandings are: That the stages in the Stage-Gate model imply a waterfall development process in which development activities are mapped onto the stages and performed in a strict sequence. That a Gate is some sort of project impediment or, marginally better, any old milestone. I will below suggest Continue Reading

Climbing Mt Complexity

I have rewritten this post numerous times, I have deleted it and republished it. This is typically a sign of that I have a gut feeling about what I want to write but I haven’t yet been able to put words to that gut feeling. The rest of this post is my latest (but perhaps not last) attempt to find those words. Everybody is looking for quick fixes to complex problems, especially Continue Reading

What do you want to improve?

Every so often organizations that aren’t happy with their operational performance embark on a process improvement program of the “one-size-fits-all” variety, decide to implement the latest hyped-up development process, or purchase the latest model-based development tool without investigating what their prioritized improvement needs really are. One company that I was helping had for instance planned to ramp up their verification and validation activities as part of a general “quality improvement” effort. When Continue Reading

What is this thing called Quality?

The exact string “high quality consulting services” renders over 100 000 hits on Google (without the quotes you get over 30 million). Having been in this business for some time, I always get a bit annoyed by such phrases. My platitude indicators are flashing red. What is meant by “high” I wonder. And by “quality” for that matter. And why is nobody ever offering “medium quality” or “low quality” services or products? Continue Reading