The Zeroth Law of Quality

Oct 1st, 2002 by Tony in QSM2

Many managers fail to recognize the relationship between their own actions and the results they’re getting. At best their actions are ineffective, but most of the time they are actually counterproductive.

They may know how to develop software but they don’t know the answer to the crucial question that all of us must ask ourselves: Why don’t we do what we know how to do?

One of the reasons we don’t do what we know how to do is that we are
confused by the multitude of problems. The first step out of this confusion is to realize that: Every software problem is a quality problem.

Think about it in terms of the Zeroth Law of Software: If the software doesn’t have to work you can always meet any other requirement.

In more general form, this becomes the Zeroth Law of Quality: If you don’t care about quality, you can meet any other requirement.

Quality, in fact, is producing things of value to some people: meeting their requirements. If you don’t have to meet their requirements, if quality doesn’t count, you can produce software with any number of features, at any price, as fast as you like. And your developers can think it’s great software. In short: If you don’t have to control quality, you can control anything else.

— Jerry Weinberg, Quality Software Management Vol 2, Chapter 7

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