Product is a reflection of the Organization’s Culture

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Adam Bahret

Customers evaluate a product on many dimensions, chief among them is Reliability. Their experience of the product greatly diminishes if the reliability is subpar. Within the product usage experience lies the product’s and the organization’s interaction with the customer.

From the moment the purchase is made to operation and the end of life, the customer interacts with the product and the organization in multiple ways. The buying experience, test drives, checkout process, technical support, warranty claims, spares, and maintenance support – all have an impact on the perceived reliability of the organization. With this insight, I claim that it is not sufficient to develop a reliable product but we need a reliable organization.

Organizations which design systems are constrained to produce designs which are copies of the communication structures of these organizations.

-Conway’s Law

The above law is a fascinating discernment of the limitations of organizations to make reliable products. When the teams are siloed and working in patches, the product launched will reflect this by having interaction issues. Software upgrades, product evolution that builds on earlier platforms, and adding cutting-edge features are examples of this. Or consider another glaring example: Tier 2 and Tier 3 suppliers. When a product uses components from a vast supply network and there is no responsibility and clear communication from suppliers to buyers, the inefficiency will be reflected in the product’s reliability.

Design for Reliability tools needs commitment from multiple teams thereby putting a mandatory need that the organization is fluid and the communication structures are open and unclogged. Reliability Culture tools (Anchoring, Bounding, and Focus Rotation) also need consideration of all team’s needs. How often have we seen products pushed to market earlier without heeding to reliability team’s concerns? The balance needs to be achieved to create a reliable organization, which will then lead to a reliable product.

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