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Real Life Debugged » Product development cycles

Tag-Archive for ◊ Product development cycles ◊

Subtitle: Another digression about talking with those silly customers

I had a discussion with a good friend the other day - we’d spent years fire-fighting embedded systems gone wrong. During many all-nighters and several 110-hour weeks, our deepening ire became sharply focused on the idiocy of using zillion-line industry standards as product requirements.

On that project, there was no “customer need” or requirements document. I’d never met a customer. That was 12 years ago. It hasn’t changed much, he admitted. Now, as it was then, buggy products are still late.

Then I was approached by a university to redo their senior design program. Cooool - I got to indoctrinate brand-new engineers to the entire industry-standard process: starting with customer needs and requirements. “Back away from the keyboard,” I told them. “TALK to the customer.” And you know what? They got it!

To my delight, my best teams delivered beyond the customers’ expectations, and one won a national design award for their work. (Their story is below)

If graduating engineers can do it, why can’t we?

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In the past, learning and teaching debugging was, perhaps, only somewhat more haphazard than it is now. Learning from a mentor, a teammate, trial-and-error at 4 am before a customer demo. I’ve pulled double all-nighters. Painful, with a stomach-churning donut-induced sugar high.

This “approach to problem-solving” - it is really such a big deal? Donuts are pretty tasty…

more…