Why is it often hard for organizations to get serious about quality assurance?

Solving problems is a high-visibility process; preventing problems is low-visibility. This is illustrated by an old parable:
In ancient China there was a family of healers, one of whom was known throughout the land and employed as a physician to a great lord. The physician was asked which of his family was the most skillful healer. He replied, “I tend to the sick and dying with drastic and dramatic treatments, and on occasion someone is cured and my name gets out among the lords.” “My elder brother cures sickness when it just begins to take root, and his skills are known among the local peasants and neighbors.” “My eldest brother is able to sense the spirit of sickness and eradicate it before it takes form. His name is unknown outside our home.” This is a problem in any business, but it’s a particularly difficult problem in the software industry. Software quality problems are often not as readily apparent as they might be in the case of an industry with more physical products, such as auto manufacturing or home construction.

Additionally: Many organizations are able to determine who is skilled at fixing problems, and then reward such people. However, determining who has a talent for preventing problems in the first place, and figuring out how to incentivize such behavior, is a significant challenge.


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