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Van Halen, Brown M&Ms and Quality Control

I saw an interesting video today about attention to detail and quality control. In the video, David Lee Roth describes a tactic that the band Van Halen used to test for attention to detail and be warned of possible red flags in the preparation of large shows.

In the video Roth explains that they used very specific lighting and stage equipment that had to pass certain setup specifications before the show. All of those requirements were spelled out in the (very large) contract that they used when agreeing to perform. Deep within the contract they added a requirement that there be no brown M&Ms included in the dressing room candy selection; if brown M&Ms were found, the show could be cancelled immediately. The requirement was not to satisfy the egos of the performers, but rather to test attention to detail. Roth goes on to tell that if they found brown M&Ms backstage it was taken as an indicator that there may be other parts of the contract that had not been fully adhered to that could result in failed inspections or safety hazards.
This example of extreme attention to detail could loosely apply to software development requirements as well. While adding in meaningless checks will add unnecessary time to the project and should be avoided, the real lesson is to make sure that crucial features are implemented as planned so that the big picture comes together as expected. To help ensure those quality standards are met, defined use cases and explicit criteria testing, along with an agile development plan, can be utilized.

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