Ensuring the quality of our development is paramount, but it can often be a tug-of-war with clients who only insist in getting a product launched with as little effort as possible. It can often be difficult to trust the expertise of your development team, it can also be easy for a development team to compromise the integrity of its work by slimming down tasks to require the least effort possible. Every product we launch goes through rigorous testing by a dedicated Quality Assurance analyst, but to ensure true quality, a product owner must insist upon doing things the right way every time.
The story below was told to me and was attributed to Ken Schwaber (co-author of the Scrum Guide). I imagine the story has changed slightly as it was passed down, but the underlying principle still stands.
Fat Burger represents a development team, and the cashier is a developer. The squirrel burger represents software that was rushed out the door, knowing it was laden with bugs or technical debt. Let’s say the squirrel burger is the shopping cart on an online store. It’s out in the world and starts collecting payments and sending products. But it turns out there was a bug and the money was never collected. Even though the man said it’s ok to get that squirrel burger, ultimately the entire development team assumed 100% of the risk (not the man). No one else is able to fix the issue; just the development team. When you’re in the daily grind, it’s easy to say, “that won’t be a big deal” or “it’s such an edge case.” It’s impossible to foresee all of the outcomes, so you should never assume it’ll be fine.
Moral of the story: Even if we really really want to have three features in our product, this story teaches us that it’s better to deliver two quality ones. The right thing to do is to choose which items you need the most and just get that. Choosing to live without a drink and fries might be full of difficult conversations, but you need to have the fortitude to only have a burger today. The drink and fries will come tomorrow.