In January I read a news story about a woman who wanted to drive from the outskirts of Brussels to the train station to pick up a friend. What should have been just a 38 mile drive turned into an 1800 mile odyssey across Europe because the car’s navigation system sent her the wrong way. The navigation system sent her via Zagreb, Croatia and apparently she was so preoccupied that even having to stop for gas several times did not tip her off that something might be wrong. She crossed five borders and saw traffic signs in different languages. The people at the gas stations where she stopped did not speak her language. The names of cities and towns were not familiar. Yet she did not doubt her navigation system until two days later when she realized that she may not be in Belgium anymore.
It is tempting to make fun of this woman’s blind trust in her navigation system. But at least she had a tool that helped her stay on a course. Her only mistake was that she did not verify that this course was in fact the right one. Many software development projects do not have a defined course or even a defined goal to begin with. Some teams develop software and deploy it into production without any tests and without monitoring on the application or system level. When errors occur they have no clue as to what the root cause is. Not that it would matter mind you, as they probably do not have a process defined in which to deal with the errors anyway.
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