Thank you so much, Watts Humphrey

I learned today that Watts Humphrey died yesterday. His obituary from the SEI can be found here.

I learned today that Watts Humphrey died yesterday. His obituary from the SEI can be found here.

I have great admiration for Humphrey’s work. During my stay in CMU in 92-93, he was a guest lecturer in our      Software Process Improvement course. His lecture was about the Personal Software Process. I was deeply  impressed by his insights and the fascinating anecdotes he had to tell… his professional life was immensely rich.    He was also a very talented lecturer.


At that time I was doing some research work in Software Engineering Education. He agreed to have a quick interview after his class, where I asked him a few questions. One of them was if he thought the CMM should be taught in undergraduate courses in software engineering. To my surprise, his answer was that we shouldn’t worry too much about teaching the details of the CMM. He said we should strive to teach our students the concepts of software process improvement, and that this could be achieved by showing them how they could apply these concepts to improving their personal work or, for the matter, anything that they regularly do. Inspect and improve processes, that was the key according to him. That’s something we hear a lot these days… But what I admire most about Humphrey is what he described as his “outrageous personal commitment”. That’s the commitment he took when he decided that he had to do something to fix the software crisis. And guess what… he did it!

We don’t need more people that want to sell us courses, tools or silver bullets. We need more people like Watts Huphrey, who was only inspired by his will to improve software development practice throughout the world, and did it.

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