Today I shall tell you another story about the Wise Men of Helem and solutions to problems. I know this one in Russian, beautifully translated from Yiddish, in which it was written by Ovsey Driz, a wonderful Russian Jewish poet and writer, as part of a cycle “The bead bookmark”. This poem-story is called “Helem traditions” (my own loose translation):
From times immemorial there were mice in Helem.
Not one, not two, not a thousand – but, perhaps, a million.
A short while ago we have celebrated Hanukkah, and at the party in my son’s school a few girls have staged and performed the old and well-loved song by Hava Frankel (lyrics) and Dvora Havkin (music), Hanna Zelda. To my delight, I have discovered a rather charming translation of this humorous song and bring it here (taken from ETNI website; translators’ names given as Ayala, Tanya, Menachem):
Oh Hanna Zelda, my beloved wife,
The Feast of Hanukka has come and arrived,
And at Hanukka, my soul really aches,
For to eat some sweet potato cakes.
I just love children’s stories and love citing them as illustrations in my work, of all kinds. There is so much one may learn from them, deep concepts and ideas hidden in children’s literature.
And it is hardly surprising. Since the dawn of history of mankind we have been storytellers. This is how we teach and this is how we learn: by telling stories. Some think that the purpose of reading a child a bedtime story is just spending an extra half-hour quality time with the child; others consider it being the means of teaching them to read books when they grow, copying adults, and that in order to make sure they follow this social rule that reading books is good. Not that I would argue with that, quite on the contrary: I love reading, it’s one of my favorite pastimes. But, and there is a but here, this is not at all the purpose of the exercise. It is a sort of schooling, if you like, ancient and efficient like nothing else.
Most of you are well familiar with the feeling the Quality Assurance engineer/manager/person has in the majority of organizations: all this effort, overcoming all the resistance and then, upon leaving it unattended for a little while – everything just whams back into nothing, as if you have never done anything at all.
Great are the frustration and the weariness, the begetters of wear down. You’ve got to be kidding me, do it all over again? Why? Why can’t someone else make an effort, for a change, and keep up the results we have achieved? Why must it be your intervention to set the wandering off the path straight?
Everybody knows that the slogan of Quality Assurance is “constant improvement”. However, not everybody knows that when we say improvement we necessarily mean change. One cannot improve something without changing it. Indeed, we know that if we keep doing what we have always done, we shall get the results we have always got. You want different results? You want the results to improve? You must do something differently.
Many, way too many people think that the purpose of Quality Assurance is… like policemen: to stop “offences”’ “failures” and “problems” from occurring. And if they or some of them still insist on occurring – well, to “catch” those responsible and make sure they do it no more.