Author Topic: Resistance Of Reviews  (Read 2198 times)

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Offline i_am_fubar

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Resistance Of Reviews
« on: March 09, 2020, 03:17:05 pm »
Most people on this forum are probably not perpetrators of this, what with you being signed up to a public forum to talk about engineering and what not. But I'm trying to work out why so many people, specifically many professional engineers, resist having their work reviewed.

I'm not talking about them not wanting to have people leaning over their shoulder and doing time and motion studies.... That would suck. But I've seen countless cases of engineers, surrounded by learned peers, that will try and force their projects through as fast as possible with as little oversight as possible, seemingly to keep others from offering any input; critical or otherwise.

I can understand an arrogance of youth causing it in some people when they begin their careers, a desire to prove that they don't need help. But when people who have worked in the industry for decades look upon the proposal of a review as a personal offence, I am left confused, baffled and angry (Angry because I'll usually end up having to fix preventable mistakes, but that's another story).

An example recently was someone putting a £1,000 assembled PCB out without any review of the schematic, board layout, BOM.... etc. When they have in the past had boards come in that needed days or re-work (missing vias) or total scrap (missing connector on layout).

I appreciate there is a scale to review from a 'here, look at this' to week long meetings where every decision has to be ratified. But I find, personally, the idea of going at is solo when there is no need to, insane, reckless and quite frankly selfish, insulting and rude.

I can't be the only one who has seen this?

Why does it happen so much?

Please, I need to know  :-//



 
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Offline i_am_fubar

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2020, 03:20:25 pm »
I should probably clarrify that I love reviews. They are a chance to get other peoples input. To learn new ideas and ways of thinking. To pick up on the all too human stupid fails that we all make.

It also means that if something slips though and a screw up is made.... It's not all on me  :-+
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2020, 03:31:31 pm »
As you said, some people do not like to be challenged - or would just feel like they are not trusted.

But anyway, the real problem would not lie with those people but with the company(ies) having no design review processes.
Things like this have to be enforced on a global level in a company, else it usually doesn't work - at least not for long.
 

Offline i_am_fubar

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2020, 03:40:16 pm »
Agree 100% that the company should be driving it. But even on a personal level, I will volunteer my designs up for review. It's a critical aspect of de-risking it.

I don't grasp the desire to not be challenged. It's essential to continual improvement.
 

Offline Tomorokoshi

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2020, 07:05:23 pm »
Corporate policies are both guidance and hindrance to procedures such as reviews. Enthusiastic young engineers tend to hit the walls of the policies. Compliant experienced engineers tend to follow the path to the letter. Cynical experienced engineers both hit the walls and follow the path, causing lots of corporate friction. Consider the typical requirements at play:

1. Get it done faster. We are behind schedule.
2. Get it done cheaper. We are over budget.
3. Get it done right. Quality is important.

The one who proclaims that requirement #1 is important is Sales. They have lots of sway and disposable budgets so they often get their way.

The one who proclaims that requirement #2 is important is Management. They have lots of authority and control budgets so they often get their way.

Who is left to proclaim that requirement #3 is important? Usually other engineers. Generally the cynical ones. They don't have much sway and don't control much of anything, so reviews, documentation, or delay for the purpose of testing are considered costs with no return and are easily skipped.

Those who actively avoid review processes are possibly trying to avoid the pain of iterative costs such as additional revisions or extension of schedules. These costs eventually need to be explained to a higher management level or require higher management approval. Either can be quite a problem depending on corporate culture.
 

Offline m98

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2020, 07:20:54 pm »
It can depend on what kind of company culture you create. When everyone is scared to eventually cause delays to an overly optimistic project plan, people will be hesitant to proper quality control.
 

Online daqq

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2020, 08:27:29 pm »
Quote
I can understand an arrogance of youth causing it in some people when they begin their careers, a desire to prove that they don't need help. But when people who have worked in the industry for decades look upon the proposal of a review as a personal offence, I am left confused, baffled and angry
(edit: after rereading the text a bit more)
I have noticed a similar attitude. I am now 30-ish years old and I have noticed many issues some of the older 'more experienced' had:
- design mistakes due to being woefully out of date on some aspect of electronics design
- how they simply did not comprehend or were woefully unaware how things worked these days - against my explicit warnings, parts that were in short supply were bought from one of those fishy Chinese distributors and surprise, surprise, the lot of them were fake
- how they worked ineffectively with various software

Sometimes, when I pointed things out or even offered to do them myself (because I couldn't stand the bad design choices), I was not taken seriously, mainly due to my age and generally the results were poor and exactly as I had predicted.

I am all for reviews and detailed discussions with my colleagues. I have no problems getting or giving advice.

I do get the feeling that old curmudgeons don't like the idea of young whipper snappers thinking they know something that they don't.

And yes, sadly, regardless of age, many people view pointing out flaws or the objective criticism of a design as a personal attack. In all areas, not only engineering.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2020, 08:31:29 pm by daqq »
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Offline ebastler

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2020, 09:07:02 pm »
I have noticed a similar attitude. I am now 30-ish years old and I have noticed many issues some of the older 'more experienced' had:
- design mistakes due to being woefully out of date on some aspect of electronics design
- how they simply did not comprehend or were woefully unaware how things worked these days - against my explicit warnings, parts that were in short supply were bought from one of those fishy Chinese distributors and surprise, surprise, the lot of them were fake
- how they worked ineffectively with various software

Sometimes, when I pointed things out or even offered to do them myself (because I couldn't stand the bad design choices), I was not taken seriously, mainly due to my age and generally the results were poor and exactly as I had predicted.

I am all for reviews and detailed discussions with my colleagues. I have no problems getting or giving advice.

I do get the feeling that old curmudgeons don't like the idea of young whipper snappers thinking they know something that they don't.

And yes, sadly, regardless of age, many people view pointing out flaws or the objective criticism of a design as a personal attack. In all areas, not only engineering.

If you offer your advice and design feedback in the same tone -- has it occurred to you that it might come across as arrogant? And that this may contribute to the fact that people don't actively seek your advice?  ::)
 

Online daqq

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2020, 09:47:15 pm »
If you offer your advice and design feedback in the same tone -- has it occurred to you that it might come across as arrogant? And that this may contribute to the fact that people don't actively seek your advice?  ::)
I'm not sure what you mean. If I see something wrong, I point it out. Every time I pointed an issue out I was eventually proven right. I do offer it respectfully.

edit: As to people actively seeking my advice, some do, some don't.
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Offline twospoons

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2020, 09:51:51 pm »
Design reviews really need to be enforced. They should be regarded as a critical part of the process.
Avoiding reviews can be the result of time pressure, or hubris, or simple lack of understanding the true cost of a mistake.
I guess nobody likes having their work questioned, but there's a certain maturity (nothing to do with age!) required to realise that no-one is perfect, especially one's self.

A company I currently contract to has been bitten in the past by a poor product design resulting in a high field failure rate - so they decided to do something about it. Not only has the review process been formalized, but the product goes through several stages of verification - by a team of engineers separate to the design team. The validation team is as big as the design team, and we test everything. Issues get reported back, to be fixed in the next iteration.  Nothing gets out the door until it passes validation.

Another company I worked for in the past had system involving chocolate fish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_fish).  In the review you could earn a chocolate fish for each design flaw spotted, and the designer had to supply the goodies. Incentive to make sure your work was perfect before review, and to really look hard at the other guys work.
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #10 on: March 10, 2020, 02:05:43 am »
Design reviews really need to be enforced. They should be regarded as a critical part of the process.
Avoiding reviews can be the result of time pressure, or hubris, or simple lack of understanding the true cost of a mistake.
I guess nobody likes having their work questioned, but there's a certain maturity (nothing to do with age!) required to realise that no-one is perfect, especially one's self.

A company I currently contract to has been bitten in the past by a poor product design resulting in a high field failure rate - so they decided to do something about it. Not only has the review process been formalized, but the product goes through several stages of verification - by a team of engineers separate to the design team. The validation team is as big as the design team, and we test everything. Issues get reported back, to be fixed in the next iteration.  Nothing gets out the door until it passes validation.

Another company I worked for in the past had system involving chocolate fish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chocolate_fish).  In the review you could earn a chocolate fish for each design flaw spotted, and the designer had to supply the goodies. Incentive to make sure your work was perfect before review, and to really look hard at the other guys work.

With that regime, in the second to last  job I had before retirement, I would have been overwhelmed with chocolate fish.

As a person with many years spent working on equipment designed by competent EEs, the standard of design in tnis particular place was "sick-making".

Unfortunately, the "Senior" officers of the company had much of their self esteem invested in the way things were, liked a dumb, compliant workforce, & did not like being told by an "old fart" that they were doing things which were poorly thought out, & in many cases, unnecessary.

As a result, I became effectively, "an enemy of the State" as far as the bosses were concerned.
They even sacked me once, but were too useless to find a replacement, so asked me to stay on.

It was a lousy job, but OFs can't always pick and choose, so I "gritted my teeth" & stayed, until I couldn't stand it any more.
 

Offline Nominal Animal

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2020, 09:14:57 am »
It was a lousy job, but OFs can't always pick and choose, so I "gritted my teeth" & stayed, until I couldn't stand it any more.
You described exactly the situation that made me break myself (burnout, depression) -- except I was the young whippersnapper (22-30 years old) with the actual knowledge (both real-world and theoretical -- I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for that), and the results to prove it; but not the real-world experience to deal with social games playing administrata and fake-it-till-they-make-it cow-orkers.  Not knowing any better, I thought I was doing stuff wrong, and what they did was perfectly normal and okay.

At one time the boss of my department told me straight to my face that they simply couldn't trust me at all, because they had a son my age, who was completely useless.  Apparently, I too must have been useless, because otherwise they would have had to question themselves as a parent and a teacher...
 

Offline exe

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #12 on: March 10, 2020, 09:39:39 am »
I rarely enjoy code reviews (I'm a SWE) because it's most of the time a fight of opinions. Because of this, I prefer to write less code and not do more work than absolutely needed. The paradox is, less experienced engineers often play much better in the team (comparing seasoned and opinionated professionals).

So, I'm skeptical about reviews unless goals and structure of reviews are well defined. That is, the feedback should be constructive, and it shouldn't be about personal opinions.
There is a lot of information on "how to do review right", but it doesn't help. People read such articles, think they got it, then they call their opinion as a "constructive feedback" with huge confirmation bias. So, no communication there, and a lot of stress and wasted time.

So, I prefer to work with less experienced people who are eager to learn and haven't grown big ego yet :). Of course it's not really about experience, it's about "soft skills".

Sometimes I see teams that somehow "click" to each other. Those people work well together. I wonder what's their secret.

PS Not sure how it works in electronics, I'm not a EE.
 
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Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #13 on: March 10, 2020, 01:44:04 pm »
It was a lousy job, but OFs can't always pick and choose, so I "gritted my teeth" & stayed, until I couldn't stand it any more.
You described exactly the situation that made me break myself (burnout, depression) -- except I was the young whippersnapper (22-30 years old) with the actual knowledge (both real-world and theoretical -- I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for that), and the results to prove it; but not the real-world experience to deal with social games playing administrata and fake-it-till-they-make-it cow-orkers.  Not knowing any better, I thought I was doing stuff wrong, and what they did was perfectly normal and okay.

At one time the boss of my department told me straight to my face that they simply couldn't trust me at all, because they had a son my age, who was completely useless.  Apparently, I too must have been useless, because otherwise they would have had to question themselves as a parent and a teacher...

I was going to say that ageism seems to be applied from the middle out to the extremes of age, but on second thoughts, assumng they are unconsciously discriminating is giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Let's face it. they were just morons!

After a while, just as in your case, I began to question my worth--- you need a lot of confidence not to be influenced by constant disregard of your knowledge.

I could rant all day, but here are a couple of the dumb things they did.

The systems we were making translated OEM control signals into something the computer could use.
The prototype used plain old pots to do this, but all except one of the real controls used PWM.
Instead of converting these signals direct, they used the legacy design from the prototype, & fed the PWM
to  RC integrating networks.

The resulting analog signal was then passed through an Op Amp, where its amplitude & dc component could be adjusted to place it into the middle of the transfer function of an ADC.

To do this, we looked at the ultimate readout on a monitor, whilst "tweaking" the appropriate pots.
It was nightmarish, chasing the thing all over the place, while peering at a PC monitor halfway across the room.

I suggested we set one up correctly that way, look at the level & centreing with an Oscilloscope, record that, then set the adjustments up that way.
It may not have been "spot on" but would have minimised adjustments done with the final display.
This was  greeted with disdain.

OK, they didn't like that, so I thought I'd "lower my sights", & suggested they provide a small monitor on a
"wander lead", so we at least could do the adjustments their way without craning our necks to see what was happening on a screen across the room.

No joy on that one, either!

Another delight was a switch on which we had to painstakingly assemble a network of diodes, which was very difficult & time consuming.

No other switches, even though they used the same interface, had these diodes.
It seems that in the prototype, the "gifted amateurs" who designed it had anticipated a problem that the diodes were meant to fix.

When the problem didn't eventuate, they left them off all the other switches, but on the production units, they were slavishly reproduced on that particular switch.

I had a "win" on that one----I "buttonholed" one of the "real" EEs as he went past, & pointed it out to him.
The diodes were scrapped, but that was a "black mark" against me!

I better stop now, before I get too worked up, but there were many other things.
It seems that if there was a way to stuff something up, they would find it!
 
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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #14 on: March 10, 2020, 01:56:09 pm »
I don't grasp the desire to not be challenged. It's essential to continual improvement.

Sure, but some people are either too confident or too insecure to handle that well.

That said, and as some have already pointed out, it's a two-way street. Some engineers are also notoriously annoying when they are participating in design reviews: overly lecturing, nitpicking, negative, dogmatic, etc. (that's something we can notice on forums too, including this one ;D )

This can ruin a team's mood, and eventually a team's work, and if you have any of those in your own team, it could explain why some colleagues don't like design reviews.

Barring that, IME hardware design reviews usually last a lot less time, are more to the point, and a lot more productive than typical software code reviews.




 

Online NANDBlog

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2020, 02:28:06 pm »
PCB design reviews are a cheap and effective way of improving quality. That's easy. Everyone with half a brain understands this. When someone doesnt offer his design up for review, it is always for political reasons. The company recently hired an engineer, mediocre old fart with narcissistic personality disorder. Basically you cannot tell him that he is wrong about something. He will go as far as launch personal complaints against you with upper management. The answer for anything is: "It is this way, because I have 30 years of experience". Sure, all I hear is that he is old, and wrong at the same time. He also managed to offer review of my work, after with I had to spend days debunking why all points of the review was wrong. So there you go, neither of us should review each others work, because he will just write bullshit reviewing my work. And if I review his, then just dismiss everything because of his mental illness.

The industry -I'm working in now- requires review. It has to be reviewed by a second engineer at the company, and a Notified body, to make sure it is safe. No exceptions. And I mean it is a very deep review, with calculations, simulations, tests and so on, that could take months to do. Good luck getting around this.
 

Offline Siwastaja

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2020, 12:57:04 pm »
So, I prefer to work with less experienced people who are eager to learn and haven't grown big ego yet :). Of course it's not really about experience, it's about "soft skills".

This isn't bad at all. When you have to "teach" them, you need to explain your choices carefully, going through your work. Their beginner questions make you think about the basis of your choices, and you need to actually demonstrate the viability.

It's the complete opposite when some "experienced" takes the role of a questioner based on their own opinions. You know they are wrong, and hence won't question your choices. Neither side learns.

The best would be to have some less experienced, willing-to-learn person who you work with explaining your choices, and then have some consultation from a really experienced guru (not a wannabe-professional) who has seen everything to know how not to fixate on small details of opinion. The availability of such gurus is low, however.

Reviews where you end up to heated argument about "if(condition)" vs. "if (condition)" every time are not only worthless, they destroy your ability to work, and finally, the company. I'm sure many of us have seen such processes; I'm not surprised if people develop a resistance of reviews due to this. Then they start fearing reviews. One really bad experience may be enough.

My issue has been the opposite: I'd like to have more actual reviews, but somehow no one has time to do it; there always is time to discuss non-technical and marketing, though. Then, out of the blue, there is some sudden premeditated attack about some completely made-up and stupid pseudo-technical point, by people who haven't even looked at the design. Something along the lines of "WHY DON'T YOU USE BLOCKCHAIN HERE?", in a context of analog amplifier, for example. (Made-up example because I still need to be very careful not to say anything actual, but this isn't too far from what I have really heard.)
« Last Edit: March 15, 2020, 01:09:52 pm by Siwastaja »
 

Offline Rerouter

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2020, 01:16:37 pm »
As the only skilled PCB designer at my work I usually have to go knocking on doors trying to get help reviewing things,

the self review after completing a project tends to take about 30% of the layout time if things are complex, e.g. is this part the right one for the job, is there any weird (1). notes that mean things don't work as designed, are those drill holes actually positioned correctly, etc.

Where as every other person I deal with says "looks good, just order it"

I've gotten lucky so many times where what was wrong is usually 2 components are a bit to snug for easy assembly, or a screw hole was 0.5mm off, and could be fixed with a file, I am good at self review, but it would be really nice to have someone else to bounce these checks off.
 

Offline Nominal Animal

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2020, 02:08:28 pm »
(What exe and Siwastaja wrote above, is exactly the reason I volunteer to help Uni science students with their Linux laptop issues, and why I loved to answer some questions at StackOverflow and at StackExchange -- I didn't do the short-form copy-paste answers, but more like "here's how you solve this sort of problem" wall-of-texts there too.  I'd love to volunteer to that sort of stuff more in real life, but the blocker is that I don't use Windows, and there aren't many Linux users who need help, other than tutorials that already exist.)

(Also, I warmly thank anyone helping us beginners in the Beginner forum here, reviewing our first design schematics and boards.  You better believe we appreciate the reviews!)

Where as every other person I deal with says "looks good, just order it"
Yup.  When you know you are only human and make errors (and would appreciate help in catching them before they bite) but don't get any real feedback from others, it hurts more than name-calling in my opinion.

This is one of the cases where hard criticism works really, really well.  I mean, the precise kind: "this is absolute garbage and you should already know from X that this works much better".  Be hard, but specific; never vaguely nasty ("nah, you should learn board design first").

This works, because the hardness shows you are not pulling punches, and are spending the time and effort to poke at the design to check if it needs fixing.  Pointing out an occasional good solution or encouragement is a good "spice" on top, just to show you are not an antagonist; that the criticism is given in order to help the asker to produce better work output.
 

Online TimNJ

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2020, 10:49:19 pm »
At the end of the day, if something goes wrong in the field and you didn't let anyone else touch it, well, then the fault lands squarely on you. At the absolute very least, allowing people to review your work spreads the responsibility and liability across a group. Maybe that's a bit selfish, but it's true. And, on the opposite end, reviews will almost always improve the quality of the end product.
 

Offline PeurUCam

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2020, 01:34:45 am »
Some people are afraid their work or inventions get copied or stolen..
 

Offline james_s

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #21 on: March 18, 2020, 02:05:37 am »
I always try to get another set of eyes on something before I go too far. Sometimes I get a "hey have you considered just doing xyz instead?" and I realize there's a far simpler approach that may work just as well or better and save me a ton of effort. Other times it catches bone headed errors I've made or potential problems I've overlooked. I've never had any reason not to seek review for my work, the only time I send out for boards without someone taking a look is when the project is trivially simple.
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #22 on: March 18, 2020, 04:16:27 am »
its like asking john wayne gracey to see his closet

he is looking at that guys work = listening to police scanner and hearing 'fbi raid in progress' . I always think about the scifi movie 'outland'.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 04:24:17 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline coppercone2

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #23 on: March 18, 2020, 04:17:29 am »
Some people are afraid their work or inventions get copied or stolen..

or this

and there is often undocumented/non obvious things what I consider to be 'spirit of design' that will get effected. And reviews often are used as a tool to gut designs, arguments about hunches, cause philosophical clashes, etc.

A good review needs to offer options/analysis/explainations and its ALOT of work to document everything. So its expensive and time consuming. Not like look at something for 30 seconds and be like 'we use this it works better for reasons unexplained bye'.. if that type of analysis works then it needs to be reworked so a real analysis can be done because someone was unfamiliar in the first place, or its just really loose some how.
« Last Edit: March 18, 2020, 04:36:11 am by coppercone2 »
 

Offline vk6zgo

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Re: Resistance Of Reviews
« Reply #24 on: March 20, 2020, 12:45:16 am »
At the end of the day, if something goes wrong in the field and you didn't let anyone else touch it, well, then the fault lands squarely on you. At the absolute very least, allowing people to review your work spreads the responsibility and liability across a group. Maybe that's a bit selfish, but it's true. And, on the opposite end, reviews will almost always improve the quality of the end product.

Nah!

It lands squarely on the poor harassed Tech who has to redesign your crap "on the fly", because it is needed yesterday.
Meantime, your office is nearly impossible to contact, because of time zones or, in some countries, week long universal "special holidays" in the middle of the year.

When they are finally reached, you have moved on, & your replacement hasn't a clue.

In the unlikely event we get any sense out of your company, any replacement bits will be stuck down at the bottom of a container, with 3-4 weeks delivery time.

We look at how other companies did things, use the more available components they used, or steal their design to fix yours.

This is just the reality of being at "the other side of the world".

"You" & "your" was not meant to personally attack you or your employer, it was in the same generic way you used it.
 


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