Monday, February 06, 2006

Broken Windows

Many researchers have discussed broken windows. This was first noted by psychology researchers who were discussing urban decay. It basically means that if you let a broken window or graffiti remain, it has a tendency to lead to other social decline in the neighbuorhood.

Look around the office. How many broken windows are there? Does it mirror the broken windows in the software? Are your clocks working? Do you have broken computer equipment sitting against a wall for years? How about the whiteboard with outdated project information on it? A door that doesn't properly shut? Urinals that leak? Chairs that are broken?

What message is being given to employees when the physical plant is in such a state? Is it a "Quality is Job #1" message? Or is it, a "Cheap as Possible" message?

So, what does it say about a company when the clocks don't work? That they don't have the money to fix it? Perhaps it's a reflection of what staff are seeing from further up the chain. Are either of those messages you want to pass on to your staff? Imagine the message that would be given by your CEO coming downstairs and changing the battery in the clocks. It would certainly be a powerful one.

I find it funny that management sends out these messages and then hounds staff for better quality. No wonder teams are always confused.

We expect high quality work from our software developers. To get that level of quality, we need to show them that we consider quality to be important.

Put batteries in the clock, find offsite storage for the unused equipment (hint, it's very, very cheap!), get rid of the equipment that is broken and generally fix things as they break.

Your staff is watching.


Unknown said...

Now there was me thinking you were going to launch into a philosophical masterpiece on Bastiat's Broken Window essay. ;-)

Still good though. Did you have anywhere in mind perchance?

Anonymous said...

Huh? Did I miss some important company-wide-except-CF email?

Jason Pollock said...

Nope, just a generic rant. Why does everyone think I'm talking about one place in particular?