Culture of Quality – a Refreshing View From Arista’s Ken Duda

This past week at #MFD11 I was pleased to be able to attend as a delegate and be in the room for Ken Duda’s presentation with Arista – specifically on the Culture of Quality.

Before starting with Ken’s presentation – they did a recap of some of the things Arista promised to investigate from the last #MFD9 they attended. I thought this was quite professional and was a great way to start. There were some open issues after the last #MFD, and they presented their answers to those open items to ‘Close the Loop’ – well done Arista!

Ken spoke on his passion – the pursuit of quality. Sure, there is the aspect of quality for quality’s sake. There is a purity and ambition to meet a higher expectation. But this focus on quality also provides for tangible benefits for Arista, as well as their customers.

It was so refreshing to see a corporation being willing to NOT ship updates until they are ready and fully baked!

Some of the quotes I remember from the presentation stuck with me:

Quality, to me, is an ethical issue” – there is a lot to unpack in that short quote. Perhaps this is one reason Arista is a bit slower than others to acquire new companies… each time they also must accept the technical debt an acquisition might carry.

Business success comes after customer success” – Putting the cart before the horse has lead to the downfall of others in our industry. It is a tempting target to give people what they want if there is a purchase order attached. Yet holding off until the code is ready takes patience and a longer-term time horizon.

Engineers earn the right to develop new features only after they get the current features to work properly”. This one should be taught in all software engineering courses. Not to mention Product Managers NEED to accept this as dogma. Not ignore it, merely to get then next sale based on some new feature. Again, long term thinking requires this extra step to slow down and fix issues in current code before moving to newer bells and whistles.

Just as a caveat – I have never personally been responsible for releasing new products, new features, or even must deal with the pressures of being a Product Manager. So, I can’t imagine what a PM or software developer might have to deal with personally. But I can report from the customer’s point of view. As a customer/end user… I’d much rather get current features to work properly and bug-free BEFORE new features!

I can easily recommend you watch this session on Tech Field Day’s pages to see this presentation yourself. Here’s the link: