Applying W. Edwards Deming’s Ideas in Software Development

Guest post by John Hunter, author of Management Matters: Building Enterprise Capability.

YouTube video

This video shows Poorani Jeyaseker’s presentation, The Role of W. Edwards Deming in Today’s IT, at the 2015 Deming Research Seminar.

Poorani explains how the management system drives behavior that is not useful to the organization. The business team asks for estimates for software development. Those estimates are treated as promises. The management system creates a punishment mechanism for missing estimates by over 10%. Of course this creates fear and pressure to make sure work can be completed within the 110% * estimate. So logically the estimates are padded (both to account for the natural variation in how close estimates are to final results and for the existing culture that means changes will be made to requirements without the estimate being adjusted).

This type behavior is obviously problematic. It is also not uncommon.

Stop using performance appraisal and rewards and incentives to motivate people, especial when you are using methods like agile and lean software development. Because the message that we are telling people that you have to work collaboratively, you have to build trust – but you are actually measuring them on individual performance and individual contrition.

She discusses how the practices that were driven by the management system in the example pitted departments against each other. The system itself was actively discouraging cooperation and teamwork.

Related: What’s Deming Got to Do With Agile Software Development and KanbanAgile Software Development and Dr. DemingDeveloping Software Using Deming’s IdeasDeming and Software DevelopmentUser GembaHow to Respond to a Request for Estimates on Software Development

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