Manual Work is a Bug

My own personal story:  A long time ago, I was a farm kid on my grandfather’s farm.  The neighboring town decided to outlaw the carbide noise makers (like this one) that we used to keep crows off the corn…at peak harvest.  Understandable, but we would have lost the commercial value of the sweet corn crop for the year.

So 14-year-old me got to be a walking scarecrow for a week, in 100 degree heat and 95+% humidity, with a big straw hat and a gallon jug of water that became disgustingly warm as the day went on.

What I learned from this:

  1. Sometimes you have to take one for the team.
  2. In the long run, there are some tasks that human beings shouldn’t do, that should be automated.  (In this case, I was the stopgap in going *backwards* away from an existing automated solution).  We dropped sweet corn as a crop after that year.
  3. The small family farm is a dead end; the margins are too small to make a decent living, so I was the last of 10 generations of family to work that farm.  It wasn’t practical to aggregate the farm with others, as the state had run two highways through it, but that, as they say, is another story.
  4. Corollary: You have to move on from time to time and refresh your approach if you want to succeed.  This is a good general lesson.

Given this, and my history in software development and IT operations, I wholeheartedly agree with the article below.

Every IT team should have a culture of constant improvement – or movement along the path toward the goal of automating whatever the team feels confident in automating, in ways that are easy to change as conditions change. As the needle moves to the right, the team learns from each other’s experiences, and the system becomes easier to create and safer to operate.

Source: Manual Work is a Bug

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A great way to make quality important in your organization

There’s really only one key practice for quality:  continuous improvement, and its dual, continuous learning. For continuous learning, many practices that help; one of my personal favorites is ‘Lunch and Learn.’  It’s easy to get started, allows the team to ‘opt in’ to shared practices, and is an amazing opportunity for growth.

One example that quickly springs to mind is “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert Martin. This was one of the featured books in our lunch and learns at EVault. We’ve also done this at Pharmatrust, and I think we’re about at critical mass to do this at MedAvail.

On a side note: I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to learn from the teams I have worked with over the years; it’s one of the greatest pleasures of my professional life.