THINK

Aug 23rd, 2002 by Tony in QSM1

For thirteen years, I took IBM seriously, especially its THINK motto. IBM was right. Thinking was essential. But after a while, I noticed that IBM and its customers often honored thinking, but didn’t practice it. As far as I could tell, little THINK signs on each desk never helped us get software out the door. Yet IBM managers never seemed to do much else to help the process. Later, after I left IBM for an independent consulting career, I learned that IBM’s managers were no different from the rest. All over the world, software managers gave lip service to thinking, but didn’t do much about it. For one thing, they never understood the reasons that people didn’t think when they ought to. Of course, I didn’t understand either.

In school everyone told me how smart I was. True, I did outstanding work on all sorts of tests, but I never seemed to be able to think effectively about my own life. I was a miserable kid, and I thought that thinking machines might help me solve my problems.

Well, thinking machines didn’t solve my problems; they made them worse. When I tried to build software, the computer unfailingly accentuated all my mistakes. When I didn’t think right about a program the program bombed. The computer, I learned, was a mirror of my intelligence, and I wasnt’t too impressed by my reflection.

Later, when I wrote larger programs in concert with other people, I learned that the computer was not just a mirror, but a magnifying mirror. Any time we didn’t think straight about our software project, we made a colossal monster. I began to learn that if we were ever to make good use of thinking machines, we would have to start by improving our own thinking.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 1, Preface.

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