Re: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long)

Subject: Re: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long)
From: "Mark Baker" <listsub -at- analecta -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 19:28:18 -0500


Dick Margulis wrote:

> Discoveries (rather than designs) generally do spring, if not full
> formed like Minerva from the head of Zeus then from a well fertilized
> field. However designs (as in the next umpteen versions of the Corolla)
> do not represent discoveries

You are making a false dichotomy. There is no separate process for making
breakthroughs as opposed to designs. Breakthroughs come as a result of
design activities. Even where people deliberately set out to build something
significantly new, the achieve their ends by a dogged process of
experimentation and testing -- the process of designing the new invention.

Design is a process of generating information through deliberate and
controlled experimentation and testing. Most of the time the information
generated leads to minor improvements. At certain points, the information
generated may lead to a major advance. But whether you are aiming for a
minor improvement and stumble onto a breakthrough, or whether you are
deliberately seeking a breakthrough, the principles and the processes are
the same. You need a process that will deliver the most information in the
shortest amount of time. The principles that allow you achieve the maximum
amount of information are well known, if not always practiced.

> Process is good. Discipline is good. However the
> breakthroughs come with creativity, not rote adherence to algorithms.

Creativity is nothing but the mind drawing conclusions from information.
Rote adherence to the best algorithms for generating the most information in
the shortest amount of time will produce the greatest amount of information
which will, in turn, lead to the largest number of breakthroughs.

Yes, you also need the right minds with the right training to draw the
proper conclusions. But assuming engineers of equal capability working for
two different companies, the company that has the best processes for
generating design information through systematic experimentation and testing
will make more breakthroughs and will make them faster and at a lower cost.
This is been well documented in studies of industrial design.

The same thing applies to technical communication. Given technical writers
of equal ability, the company that has the best process for generating the
design information needed by technical writers will produce more and better
documentation for less money. And yes, technical writers who improve their
productivity by improving their process are less likely to have their jobs
offshored.

---
Mark Baker
Analecta Communications
+1 613 614 5881
www.analecta.com


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Follow-Ups:

References:
RE: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long): From: stevefjong
Re: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long): From: Dick Margulis
Re: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long): From: Mark Baker
Re: The software factory (was "Don't believe the hype?") (long): From: Dick Margulis

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