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Realize a vision, not a requirement spec

Most of us want to develop with quality. We want to create things that are really good, that work well, and that delight users and customers.

In order to do this, we come up with a number of practices, rules, policies, and other tools to ensure we stay on a good path. While all these can help us, they can also cause us to lose focus on the real goal. “You get what you measure”, is a common saying, one that also means that if you measure X in order to get Y, you will receive X but not Y if you push the measuring hard enough.

What I would like here, is to encourage you to take a step back, think about what you are doing and why. Is the thing that you are doing helping you reach “good” or just “done”? Are you improving the system or just extending it? Another way to put this, I want us to work on realizing a vision rather than a requirement specification. Everyone from developers and testers to architects and project managers should know and care for that vision. They should also have mandate to try their best to realize it.

As an inspiration, this is the “requirement specification” that Michelangelo received for his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel.

Please paint our ceiling for the greater glory of God
and as an inspiration and lesson to his people.

He did also receive a few suggestions for motives, but the above quote was the vision that Michelangelo was asked to realize. I think we can agree on that the result was more than “ok”!

The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel
The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

Updates #

  • 2024-04-24: Republished this post which was originally written for my previous blog.