From Bricks to Masterpieces: The Artistry of Building Quality in Agile
In this article, discover how to build quality from the very first brick laid, and create products that you can truly be proud of.
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When I visited Paris a few months back, my colleagues were kind enough to take me on a drive to see some of Paris' iconic monuments. We passed by the Notre Dame Cathedral, which is undergoing renovation. I was fascinated by the pure might of it and was reminded of a story of three bricklayers who were asked by the architect what they were doing. Most of you may know the story, so I'll keep it brief: the first bricklayer replied, "I am laying bricks." The second one said, "I am constructing a wall." The third one said, "I am building a cathedral." (The cathedral in this parable is considered to be St Paul’s Cathedral of London, but there are variations relating it to Notre Dame as well.)
This story is usually used to articulate the meaning of a higher purpose. I am drawing yet another message from it - that of high-quality artistry or craftsmanship. The person who was building the cathedral saw the higher purpose, of course, and ensured that he was creatively contributing to it, which ultimately led to a masterpiece. The same trait of artistry could be found in works of wonder such as a symphony, a portrait, a building, a sports car, or even a fine dining experience. All of it starts with a skilled and passionate "bricklayer" giving their best.
In every product that we build, we have the responsibility to demonstrate artistry. Every line of code that is written, test case that is executed, every page of documentation that is created, and design that is drawn deserves to be the output of our best skills which will ultimately result in a fine masterpiece that we can be proud of. This is all the more important in an Agile way of working. Our endeavor to deliver value to the customer shall be strongly backed by "built-in-quality" practices.
While thousands of minds across the globe collaborate to create a product using state-of-the-art tools and technology, it all starts from the basic building unit of an individual "laying the brick." Quality starts from that point onwards.
To ensure that we embrace the artistry of building quality in our work, here are five actionable points for different roles:
- Developers: Write clean, modular, and maintainable code. Follow coding best practices, adhere to coding standards, and continuously improve your skills. Consider code reviews as opportunities to learn and enhance the quality of your work.
- Designers: Craft user-centered designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also intuitive and functional. Pay attention to details, conduct user testing, and iterate based on feedback. Collaborate closely with developers to ensure seamless integration of design and functionality.
- Testers: Go beyond just executing test cases. Develop a deep understanding of the product and its intended use. Create comprehensive test strategies, identify edge cases, and perform exploratory testing. Advocate for quality within the team and provide valuable feedback for continuous improvement.
- Product Managers: Prioritize quality alongside feature development. Collaborate closely with the team to define clear acceptance criteria and quality standards. Regularly gather feedback from customers and stakeholders to ensure that the product meets their expectations. Be the voice of the customer and champion their needs throughout the development process.
- Architects: Design scalable, robust, and maintainable systems. Consider performance, security, and future extensibility while making architectural decisions. Foster a culture of technical excellence within the team and encourage knowledge sharing to raise the overall quality of the solution.
Remember, each one of us plays a crucial role in building the foundation of a masterpiece. Let's embrace our respective roles with passion, dedication, and a commitment to delivering the highest quality. By doing so, we can collectively create products that not only meet customer expectations but also stand as shining examples of craftsmanship and artistry.
Together, let's build quality from the very first brick laid, and create products that we can truly be proud of.
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