Predictability is Bad for Your Business
I had the pleasure of meeting some old colleagues a few weeks ago. They work for a software company that pays a lot of attention to software engineering practices and invests heavily in software tools. Financial results, however, have not been great over the past few years.
Obviously, the disparity between the strength of the software engineering discipline and the relative weakness of the financial results is due to more than a single cause. One factor, however, was highlighted time and time again by my colleagues:
Predictability is killing us!
Paradoxical that this observation might seem, it is actually quite straightforward. Senior management in their company is really forceful about predictability. Hence, initiative, (affordable) experimentation and innovation have pretty much faded away. For most practical purposes it has become a check-the-box culture. All attempts to substitute reliable delivery for predictability seem to have failed so far.
One last “ingredient” to add to the story. This company is rich in talent. Generally speaking, the folks in the engineering trenches are gifted, knowledgeable, capable and dedicated.
How predictably poignant!