Getting Good at Being Bad


Now, I'm not advocating that we become whiners, wallowing in past mistakes or dwelling on dire predictions. But there is a big difference between dealing with issues and covering them up. Successfully dodging a hail of bullets on your way home is not the same as living in a safe neighborhood. Just because production wasn't down (or at least not for long) doesn't mean there was no impact: There is a very real cost in terms of loss of productivity, lower morale, and increased stress. And, of course, every so often there is a problem that can't be covered up or recovered from quickly enough.

The best strategy is somewhere in between whining and denying. It should be imperative to identify any issues that occur in production and perform some degree of root cause analysis—not for placing blame but for figuring out how it could have been prevented. These incidents should also be tracked for trends—is production becoming more or less stable over time? Are process improvements having any effect? One of the most successful test managers I know of consistently receives his requested budget by demonstrating a direct impact on production incidents.

What is the culture in your company? Is everyone so focused on how things look that they are ignoring how they really are, or is honesty permitted, even encouraged, as a means of improvement? Does your management really grasp the risks of cutting quality corners along the way, or do they think they are getting away with it?

About the author

Linda Hayes's picture Linda Hayes

Linda G. Hayes is a founder of Worksoft, Inc., developer of next-generation test automation solutions. Linda is a frequent industry speaker and award-winning author on software quality. She has been named as one of Fortune magazine's People to Watch and one of the Top 40 Under 40 by Dallas Business Journal. She is a regular columnist and contributor to and Better Software magazine, as well as a columnist for Computerworld and Datamation, author of the Automated Testing Handbook and co-editor Dare To Be Excellent with Alka Jarvis on best practices in the software industry. You can contact Linda at

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