The Unimportance of Being Ernest

As part of the high school curriculum, my son chose to read the Oscar Wilde play, the “Importance of Being Ernest”.  To assist in his analysis, we saw the movie version (pictured above), and went to the Broadway version done at the Roundabout Theatre.  Aside from the innumerable puns, it is the central pun of the play that strikes me.  It is the importance of “being earnest” … as opposed to “Being Ernest”.

So often, it is perceived that we must be earnest in our dealings with people, in the services we offer, and how we comport ourselves.  We must appear to care; we must appear to get involved; we must appear to get to the bottom of things.

The reality in long term relations is not the appearance of earnestness … but rather in the actual performance and results that counts.  Things must “be” what they “appear to be”.  Things must function as expected.  It is not a matter of advertising or marketing hype.  If things don’t function properly, there is a real risk of alienating the customer; it is a violation of trust between developer/consultant and end user.  If this failure happens too often, you risk alienating the customer base.

There are always cost-benefit balancing on any service provided.  There is a balance of cost and features.  But where the features promised (by the actual software menu item) just don’t work, that is a sign of underlying problems in testing and quality control.

In my view, until a feature is fully tested, it should not be released.  Is the user of the program to play Russian Roullette every time they hit a menu item? … Will it work today, what will happen, I wonder.  And so I appreciate the earnestness, I appreciate the caring. But at the end of the day, I just want it to work.  I want it to work today, when I am testing it, tomorrow when I deliver it, and all the next days when my client is using it.

Posts by Category & Tag

Categories Soapbox