On the Software-Testing Yahoo Group lately, we’ve been debating the pros and cons of W. Edwards Deming. Among that group, I am surprisingly pro-Deming. Here’s a quote from his wikipedia page that I particularly like:
Deming realized that many important things that must be managed couldn’t be measured. Both points are important. One, not everything of importance to management can be measured. And two, you must still manage those important things. Spend $20,000 training 10 people in a special skill. What’s the benefit? “You’ll never know,” answered Deming. “You’ll never be able to measure it. Why did you do it? Because you believed it would pay off. Theory.” Dr. Deming is often incorrectly quoted as saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” In fact, he stated that one of the seven deadly diseases of management is running a company on visible figures alone.
Now that is not something you hear every day when you talk to a management “guru.”
In that Spirit, John Dvorak just published a humorous, and, I hope, tongue-in-cheek critique of that ultimate management-by-the-numbers tool: The Spreadsheet. Yes, the spreadsheet, wheren you model the problem mathematically and it pops and answer out.
According to Dvorak, it’s done more harm that good. Like I said, I think his column is intended to be at least slightly humorous – so please take it with a grain of salt – but also, please, take a look.