Fun_People Archive
18 Aug
Dilbert Correlation Factor

Date: Fri, 18 Aug 95 17:15:33 -0700
From: Peter Langston <psl>
To: Fun_People
Subject: Dilbert Correlation Factor

Forwarded-by: (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: (Ann L. Chervenak)
Forwarded-by: (Craig Tovey)

API Austin - First there were software metrics.  With these, software
developers and their management could finally measure something for
the output of the software creation process.  In the 80's these
techniques flourished.  Funny names for these measurements emerged,
like "McCabe complexity" and "software volume."  Soon it was realized
that there needed to be a way not only to measure the quality of the
software output, but also to measure the quality of  the engineering
organization itself.  The Capability Maturity Model, CMM was developed
in the early 90's.  Organizations are audited by professionals and
rated on a scale of 1 to 5.  Low scores mean the software production
process is chaotic, while 5 means that all aspects of software
development are fully understood and carefully applied, all but
assuring a quality product every time.  Sadly, most software
organizations today weigh in at a meager 1, there's a surprising
number of 0's out there.  Now, a revolutionary new measurement
technique has been developed by a small startup consulting firm in
Austin, Texas.  The new system is known simply as DCF.  The simplicity
and elegance of the new measuring system belies its power in
accurately judging the soundness of a software organization.  The
inventor of DCF and  founder of the  DiCoFact Foundation, Matt
Sejnowski, says the new measurement system is "simple and fool-proof,
but modifications are being made to make it management-proof as well."

One Sunday morning Matt was performing his normal ritual of reading
the most important parts of the newspaper first, when he came across
his favorite comic strip, "Dilbert," by Scott Adams.  Matt and his
work colleagues loved this comic strip and were amazed by how many of
the silly storylines reminded them of actual incidences at their
company.  They even suspected that Scott Adams was working there in
disguise, or at least that there was a spy in the company feeding
Scott daily cartoon ideas.  Matt suddenly had the flash of genius
inspiration that promised to make him millions:  The Dilbert
Correlation Factor (DCF).

Take 100 random Dilbert comic strips and present them in a survey to
all your engineering personnel.  Include both engineers and
management.  Each person reads the strips, and puts a check mark on
each strip that reminds him of how his company operates.  Collect all
surveys and count the check marks.  This gives you your Dilbert
Correlation Factor, which can range, of course, from 0% to 100%.
Average out the engineers' scores.  Throw out the managers' surveys;
we just have them do the survey to make them feel important.  However,
if many of them scowl during the survey, add up to 5 points to the DCF
(in technical terms, this is your Management Dissing Fudge Factor,
MDFF.)  Make sure to also throw out surveys of engineers that laugh
uncontrollably during the whole survey.  Remember their names for
subsequent counseling.  And that's all there is to it!  Oh, yeah, then
walk around the building and count Dilbert cartoons on the walls.
Don't forget coffee bars, bulletin boards, office doors and of course,
bathrooms.  Add up to 10 points for this Dilbert Density Coefficient
Adjustment (DDCA.)

Interpreting the results is simple.  Let's look at some ranges:

0% - 25%:  You probably have a quality software organization.
However, you guys need to lighten up!  Maybe a few surprise random
layoffs, or perhaps initiating a Quality Improvement Program, will do
the trick to boost your company's DCF to a healthier level.

26% - 50%:  This is also a sign of a good software organization, and
is nearly ideal.  You still manage to get a quality product out, and
yet you still have some of the fun that only Dilbert lovers can
identify with... Mandatory membership in social committees, endless
e-mail debates about the right acronyms to use for company products,
and of course detailed weekly status reports where everyone lists "did
status report" on accomplishments.

51% to 75%:  This is the most typical DCF level for software houses
today.  Your software products are often in jeopardy due to the
Dilbert-like environment they are produced in.  You have a nice healthy
dose of routine mismanagement, senseless endless meetings with no
conclusions, miscommunications at all levels of the organization, and
arbitrary commitments made to customers which send engineers into

76% to 100%:  The best advice for this organization is this:  get the
hell out of the software business.  Hire the best cartoonist you can
afford, have him join your project teams and document what he sees in
comic strips...get `em syndicated and you'll make a fortune!

Matt has applied for a patent on his unique DCF system.  He is anxious
to become a high-priced consultant, going to lots of companies, doing
his survey, getting the fee, and getting out before management
realizes they've been ripped off and have to hire another high-priced
consultant to come in and set things right.  Matt reports, "I'm
thinking about a do-it-yourself version for the future, too.  I'd put
Dilbert cartoons on little cards so they can be passed out to the
engineers in the survey...I'll probably call it `Deal-a-Dilbert'.  I'm
also thinking about a simple measurement system that lets employees
find out their personality type and where they best fit into the
organization.  I call this the `Dilbert-Dogbert Empathy Factor' or
DDEF for short."

[=] © 1995 Peter Langston []