Is the absence of an answer actually the answer?

Stylised picture of wolf baying at the moon

Most of us in IT are working long hours. There are always more fires to put out, and less time to prevent the fires from starting in the first place.

But we all know that sometimes we must spend time on what is important, even if it isn’t urgent.

Which is why I’m so very disappointed.

The search for the silver bullet

Everyone wants the silver bullet: that one change that will solve all our problems, from system failures to project overruns.

So we look for a new technology. Or, even better, a new methodology. That’s why there are always new buzz words. Or old ideas with shiny new names and packaging.

Often we get some improvement. But, if we’re honest, not as much as we’d hoped for, especially not after the enthusiasm of the new has worn off. Why?

The real silver bullet

I believe we are looking in the wrong place.

If we want sustainable quality, committed teams and satisfied users, we must start with our attitude towards software development.

Our approach to professionalism in the software industry is fundamental. It affects everything we do: how we handle deadlines, how we interact with our team, how we manage developers, the quality of our code, and the care we give our clients and our users.

Why I’m disappointed

In October and November 2020 I mentioned the ethics survey. Incus Data and the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) are conducting an online survey about ethics in the software engineering industry in South Africa. I asked for your help to reach as many developers as possible.

I was disappointed because I got so few responses. So I asked our sales team to spend time phoning managers to ask them to participate. The lack of interest has moved me from disappointed to shocked.

This is a 10-15 minute survey that is completely anonymous. Only 15 minutes. No email addresses, no IP addresses, no company names, no risks, no privacy issues. It took months to get approval from the TUT Research Ethics Committee – an Institutional Review Board registered with the US Office for Human Research Protections and the SA National Health Research Ethics Council.

So what does this response say about the true state of ethics in the SA software industry? Maybe the answer will not be in the survey results, but in the lack of participation.

Do you believe that the software industry needs strong ethics and professional standards? Please share your opinion.

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