[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Dilbert metric

New Metric

API Austin - First there were software metrics.  With these, software
developers and their management could finally measure something for the
output of the software creation process.  In the 80's these techniques
flourished.  Funny names for these measurements emerged, like "McCabe
complexity" and "software volume."  Soon it was realized that there needed
to be a way not only to measure the quality of the software output, but
also to measure the quality of the engineering organization itself.  The
Capability Maturity Model, CMM was developed in the early 90's.
Organizations are audited by professionals and rated on a scale of 1 to 5.
Low scores mean the software production process is chaotic, while 5 means
that all aspects of software development are fully understood and carefully
applied, all but assuring a quality product every time.  Sadly, most
software organizations today weigh in at a meager 1, there's a surprising
number of 0's out there.  Now, a revolutionary new measurement technique
has been developed by a small startup consulting firm in Austin, Texas.
The new system is known simply as DCF.  The simplicity and elegance of the
new measuring system belies its power in accurately judging the soundness
of a software organization.  The inventor of DCF and founder of the
DiCoFact Foundation, Matt Sejnowski, says the new measurement system is
"simple and fool-proof, but modifications are being made to make it
management-proof as well."
One Sunday morning Matt was performing his normal ritual of reading the
most important parts of the newspaper first, when he came across his
favorite comic strip, "Dilbert," by Scott Adams.  Matt and his work
colleagues loved this comic strip and were amazed by how many of the silly
storylines reminded them of actual incidences at their company.  They even
suspected that Scott Adams was working there in disguise, or at least that
there was a spy in the company feeding Scott daily cartoon ideas.  Matt
suddenly had the flash of genius inspiration that promised to make him
millions: The Dilbert Correlation Factor (DCF).
Take 100 random Dilbert comic strips and present them in a survey to all
your engineering personnel.  Include both engineers and management.  Each
person reads the strips, and puts a check mark on each strip that reminds
him of how his company operates.  Collect all surveys and count the check
marks.  This gives you your Dilbert Correlation Factor, which can range, of
course, from 0% to 100%. Average out the engineers' scores.  Throw out the
managers' surveys; we just have them do the survey to make them feel
important.  However, if many of them scowl during the survey, add up to 5
points to the DCF (in technical terms, this is your Management Dissing
Fudge Factor, MDFF.)  Make sure to also throw out surveys of engineers that
laugh uncontrollably during the whole survey.  Remember their names for
subsequent counseling.  And that's all there is to it!  Oh, yeah, then walk
around the building and count Dilbert cartoons on the walls. Don't forget
coffee bars, bulletin boards, office doors and of course, bathrooms.  Add
up to 10 points for this Dilbert Density Coefficient Adjustment (DDCA).

Interpreting the results is simple.  Let's look at some ranges:

0% - 25%: You probably have a quality software organization.  However, you
guys need to lighten up!  Maybe a few surprise random layoffs, or perhaps
initiating a Quality Improvement Program, will do the trick to boost your
company's DCF to a healthier level.

26% - 50%: This is also a sign of a good software organization, and is
nearly ideal.  You still manage to get a quality product out, and yet you
still have some of the fun that only Dilbert lovers can identify with...
Mandatory membership in social committees, endless e-mail debates about the
right acronyms to use for company products, and of course detailed weekly
status reports where everyone lists "did status report" on accomplishments.

51% to 75%: This is the most typical DCF level for software houses today.
Your software products are often in jeopardy due to the Dilbert-like
environment they are produced in.  You have a nice healthy dose of routine
mismanagement, senseless endless meetings with no conclusions,
miscommunications at all levels of the organization, and arbitrary
commitments made to customers which send engineers into cataplexy.

76% to 100%: The best advice for this organization is this: get the hell
out of the software business.  Hire the best cartoonist you can afford,
have him join your project teams and document what he sees in comic
strips...get `em syndicated and you'll make a fortune!

Matt has applied for a patent on his unique DCF system.  He is anxious to
become a high-priced consultant, going to lots of companies, doing his
survey, getting the fee, and getting out before management realizes they've
been ripped off and have to hire another high-priced consultant to come in
and set things right.  Matt reports, "I'm thinking about a do-it-yourself
version for the future, too.  I'd put Dilbert cartoons on little cards so
they can be passed out to the engineers in the survey...I'll probably call
it `Deal-a-Dilbert'.  I'm also thinking about a simple measurement system
that lets employees find out their personality type and where they best fit
into the organization.  I call this the `Dilbert-Dogbert Empathy Factor' or
DDEF for short."


Kelly Starks                       Internet: kgstar@most.fw.hac.com
Sr. Systems Engineer
Magnavox Electronic Systems Company
(Magnavox URL: http://www.fw.hac.com/external.html)