03 March 2011

On technology and quality assurance

From a London Review of Books piece on Nicholas Carr's The Shallows:
There are two ways that computers might add to our wellbeing. First, they could do so indirectly, by increasing our ability to produce other goods and services. In this they have proved something of a disappointment. In the early 1970s, American businesses began to invest heavily in computer hardware and software, but for decades this enormous investment seemed to pay no dividends. As the economist Robert Solow put it in 1987, ‘You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.’[...] it wasn’t until the late 1990s that some of the productivity gains promised by the computer-driven ‘new economy’ began to show up – in the United States, at any rate. So far, Europe appears to have missed out on them.
The original IBM PC was launched in 1981. Deming formulated the principles of "Total Quality Management" in 1982. 

I previously wrote about "write-only" documents in the context of compliance and quality management here and here.

I wonder if there is a kind of Parkinson's Law about quality assurance, and one of the factors behind its explosion in the past twenty years is the availability of the technology to generate the verbiage on which it lives. Reinforced perhaps by spurious analogies between organisations and computers?

Would insistence on only original handwritten documents restore some sanity to the process?

1 comment:

  1. But haven't the more wily amongst us found ways around the computer-generated verbiage? I know I have - and no one has noticed. I figure that if I can't stomach reading the reams of stuff that come to me, then others won't be able to stomach reading the reams of stuff I send to them. That being the case, sensible people opt for sensible solutions...............which I couldn't possibly specify. The technology generates the verbiage but, funnily enough, the technology enables the pragmatists among us to bypass the verbiage, whilst appearing not to do so.


Comments welcome, but I am afraid I have had to turn moderation back on, because of inappropriate use. Even so, I shall process them as soon as I can.