informa
2 min read
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Speak Up!

How an open culture of honestly identifying faults can promote a healthy product and environment.

 

I was once told, “If you don’t have a suggested solution, don’t say anything.” Sit back, let that sink in. What happened? Well, the smoke billowed and fire grew, but everyone turned away from its lapping flames -- they didn’t have an immediate solution, didn’t even want to brainstorm one. Rather, they chose to ignore it until it was a conflagration that consumed the product in its totality.
 
We are constantly told as children to “behave ourselves.” Indeed, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it,” is a common utterance. Parents are embarrassed when their children act fundamentally like children.
 
What about an employee? What is the role of the employee? Should she strike up a drum in warning as soon as a problem is identified?
 
To do so adds visibility and, hopefully, allows enough brainpower to focus on the imminent and potential threats as to solve them before they can become serious. A problem found in software can cost hundreds of times more when identified post launch than in planning or pre-production. The longer we wait to solve an issue, the more expensive it becomes. Depending on the type of malfunction or miss-step, it may become pervasive and hard to extricate from the working tissue of process, machinery, or software.
 
In the work place, having individuals that say, “Hey, this is broken, stop this!” is vital. Toyota has the andon cord to flag a problem and, if need be, halt production before the problem can disseminate itself and become larger.

Allowing a problem to fester may also have a human impact, causing morale to flounder as the issue persists. The more visible the issue, the larger the potential fallout.
 
What systems do you have in place where you work to notify everyone involved of an issue? What actions are taken? How are the whistle blowers treated?

About the Author

Andrew Andreas Grapsas is a game programmer at Arkadium, Inc. developing casual and social games. Previously, he was a gameplay and animations programmer at Kaos Studios|THQ, and intern systems programmer on Medal of Honor.

Andrew is actively writing and programming for various projects. You can read more at his blog aagrapsas.com. He promises to update it soon.

Follow Andrew on twitter!

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