If, as Gerry Weinberg states Quality is “value to some person” …then the corollary stands that risk is anything that threatens that value.
This can be useful because Quality is an amorphous, shapeshifter, notoriously difficult to nail down. Its final judge is not us but our consumers.
I compare quality to a Black Hole. We can’t see it, we infer it exists through observing the impact on nearby matter. In the same vein, we don’t see quality, but we know it exists by how our consumers respond to it.
Unlike black holes, we can influence product quality. We do this my focus on what prevents us from producing quality work. By identifying and removing anything that threatens to impact our ability to design, develop and deploy a quality product.
One way to identify threats to quality is to ask yourself: “what is preventing me from getting meaningful work done?” The answer is likely to be a threat to quality. Frustrated by flaky tests? Poorly maintained test environments? No version control?
In the context of emergent quality, threats would be any practices, processes, technologies, and yes people, that prevent you from achieving the business goals, nested bets and outcomes set out by your team, CTO and/or company.
Threats to quality are understandably seen as undesirable and often shoved under the carpet to get ‘real work’ done. Consider identifying and removing threats is part of the real work. It’s how we handle product quality when we no longer have full control of the product.
We will always have threats to quality. How we make them visible and how we deal with them in a consistent and measured way may be the future of how we measure quality.