Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Is it ok to make mistakes?

I was listening to an Arcast episode, which was a recording of an architect panel recorded in Israel, and I heard this:

"I think when I talk to people about what makes a great architect, the number one thing I hear from people is "Experience." Well, what makes great experience but making big mistakes and learning from them, right?"

That got me thinking.
You'll never hear a doctor brag "I have great experience, I killed 60 patients over the years", or a building architect saying "I have great experience, 3 of my buildings collapsed".
So why do software architects feel it's ok to list failures?
I remember several cases in which a building architect was brought to charges because a building collapsed, yet I can't remember a single instance in which a software architect/lead developer was help accountable for something like that.

Is it because software errors don't kill people?
But there today hospitals run of software, airports use software, traffic control is managed by software. It's safe to assume a major bug in a critical application can cost lives.

Is it because the person that caused the error is not around when it occurs?
But the same logic goes for a building architect.

I think it's because the software industry is not mature enough, and somehow the general public adopted the same approach.

What do you think?

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