Steve Jobs and Promoting Insanely Great Software Quality

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” (Steve Jobs, 1989)

“You‘ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around.” (Steve Jobs, 1997)

“[If you’re lucky, when you grow up you’ll discover one simple fact: Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.” (Steve Jobs, 1994)

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Few people in recent history have made the impression Steve Jobs did. He was a thunderous, hypersonic force in a world of (relatively speaking) slow-motion quiet, leaving behind a vibrant legacy of astonishing dimensions and changing not only the way people communicate, but the very way people think about communicating in the world of information interchange.

The first two quotes highlight the difficulty of transforming a process/idea into mass-marketable software. Further, they show that for the past twenty years or so, the process of building software has not changed appreciably. One can search the Internet, scanning for the one definitive article that outlines the perfect strategy and methodology for software development, marketing and deployment. With the millions of people working diligently the past twenty-plus years in the tech world to codify any and all matters, it seems that would be doable. OK. Go ahead and look. I’ll wait. And, if the past is any indicator of future performance, twenty years from now I’ll still be waiting and you’ll be howling, foaming-at-the-mouth mad, surrounded by seriously alarming piles of used, fermenting pizza boxes and empty soda bottles. And the only one who will still love you is your Mom. Maybe. Software development can be likened to being chased by a rabid Rottweiler while trying to catch an over-amped cat jonesing for tuna when you have one leg in a cast and the cat isn’t inclined to be caught and the Rottweiler seriously wants to turn your good leg into its new, favorite chew toy, you know?

While the main functionality of computing, (with the exception of the Internet) hasn’t changed since the introduction of the “Apple”, the deliverables and the delivery systems have been hugely transformed. So much so that the wall-to-wall paper-memo world of fifty years ago has been replaced by innumerable LED, LCD, AMOLED and TFT screens flashing with invisibly acquired data-stuff, swarming in a “Cloud”, drowning us in a downpour of myriad, multi-byte pixels and sound-bites wrapped in bright neon colors. Oh, no – wait – sorry, my bad; that last is their hair color.

We haven’t finished the transition from paper – yet. That is where electronic content management [ECM] enters the discussion. Converting paper-based processes to electronic processes is not a one-to-one conversion. Shuffling paper from one desk to the next has been replaced with emails and messages popping up on a screen inviting the user to participate in the process of moving a form forward. Same end result, but an immeasurably different conveyance of unsurpassed agility that – when deployed carefully – provides an organization many paths between start and finish, where the muscular, paper-bound way had but a single path. Thoughtful design can eliminate the bottlenecks that previously might have held a document hostage until a particular manager returned from vacation. No more. Now the document can wirelessly track the slacker down to that lounge chair in Cancun and demand immediate action. Just kidding. It will actually track down the good manager who has stayed behind and is keeping the company running while all the slackers are tuna fishing down at Cancun.

For those of us here in the office, and not out tuna fishing, one last thought from Steve Jobs:

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. While some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

Go ahead – change the world! You know you can!

(Read more Steve Jobs quotes at: http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Steve_Jobs)

Shan Gill
QA Test Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

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