This post picks up on Parts 1, 2 and 3 and examines the third of Deming’s 14 Management Points, which urges:
Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.”
This is one of the fundamental issues in quality management, with the quality movement shifting from quality control to quality assurance over the years, in part thanks to Edwards Deming and his peers during the latter part of the industrial revolution.
Testing – Value Add or Overhead?
This is a tough question I’ve had to address. For example, I’ve facilitated IT groups where the issue of the value of testing, and how to manage it has been an important point of contention in organization and governance design. I believe that ultimately, testing is overhead. In that assertion, I distinguish between “inspection of final product (testing) from activities such as prototyping, modeling, running experiments – which to the contrary can be a real value add to IT discovery, solution delivery and support. I also distinguish activities such as structured walkthrough‘s etc., which have more to do with building quality in than with inspection of final product.
Note that Deming does not suggest eliminating inspection – he urges eliminating the need for mass inspection, and “ceasing dependence” on inspection. As such I acknowledge there’s such a thing as “necessary overhead,” but that need should be monitored and reduced over time, as built in quality improves.
The Genesis of “Design Thinking”
Today, the movement referred to as “Design Thinking” must welcome Deming’s admonition to “build quality in!” But I don’t see evidence of a lot of Design Thinking in most IT organizations. It is also often lacking in vendor products.
Design Thinking and Enterprise Architecture
One key role that, as I’ve said in many posts, is woefully under-served in terms of its potential to make a real difference to return on IT investment and the whole user experience, is that of the Enterprise Architect. A key to the junction between problem analysis and solution design, including solutions on a grand scale such as enterprise architectures, the Enterprise Architect should be a conduit to inject Design Thinking into IT products and services. And, with a nod to Deming, “building quality into the product in the first place!”
Image courtesy of Nanophase Nanoengineering Products