Re: Article: "Living Documentation"

Subject: Re: Article: "Living Documentation"
From: Andrew Plato <gilliankitty -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 5 Apr 2003 12:57:46 -0800 (PST)

<SteveFJong -at- aol -dot- com> wrote in message news:193305 -at- techwr-l -dot- -dot- -dot-
> Andrew, for someone who says that blaming others is a waste of time, you
> wallow in it yourself.


> The culmination of your rant is:
> >> Processes don't make mistakes. People do.


> I guess I'd have to disagree with that 94%. That's how much Dr. Deming
> attributed errors to systems and not to the people working in them. (His
> estimate varied over his 50-year career, but that's what he said most
> recently.) Blaming workers for variations in the system was not only wrong
> but counterproductive, since it tended to make the problems worse.
> To counteract the misinformation in this topic, I recommend any of Deming's
> books, starting with _Out of the Crisis_. Quality was Deming's life, and he
> knew a lot more about improving and maintaining it that anyone else posting
> here.

Deming is an interesting read, and yes his ideas are of value at a macro level.
But we're talking mostly at a micro level: errors and inaccuracies in
documentation. Deming also based his theories and ideas on a
manufacturing-centric view of business. He also published this book in 1986,
long before the wide-acceptance of the Internet, and high-speed development.

Deming is like Hackos - an interesting read where there are some good ideas,
but not always practical. In a large, manufacturing environment where workers
are really just cogs in a machine, then I would agree with Deming's assertion
that blaming individuals is bad.

But in a design and development environment where there is no easy way to
define a "catch all process" and where creativity and ingenuity are more
important than merely following a process, many of Deming's ideas collapse.
They assume there is a neat progression from raw material to completed product,
and that is not the case with many high-tech goods and services.

Andrew Plato

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