How good for doing business is to sustain conditions where customers trust their providers; one such condition is the ability to explain and predict the outcome of software development such as feature set, cost and, time to deliver.
I have observed a range of approaches to achieve predictability which I would split here in two camps: those focused on usability and those focused on profitability. The former can be characterized by the actual promotion of the end-user as an active role during design and programming activities, the later can be characterized by the ‘show me the money’ motto.
Most of us have seen militants from both camps, they usually —though not necessarily— are found supporting management-originated approaches for predictability in the case of the profit-only focus, or sticking up for practitioner-originated approaches in the case of the usability focus.
My share of experiences so far have shown to me that most of the times the profitability focus to predictability can be perceived as an expression of agreement that is not supported by real conviction —also known as lip service— about important things like usability. Even worse, some supporters of this approach know it in advance and yet go on and play games based on the ignorance —or accomplicity— of their customers against the end-users’ experience. At most, what is actually achieved is an illusion of predictability and sadly that is what the supporters of this approach are actually looking for in the first place.
On the other hand, the focus on software usability usually brings the best of professional technicians to the hands of software end-users, lucky of those end-users ending up in the hands of conscious designers, happy and peaceful dreams to both of them.
“When quality is pursued, productivity follows” -Carlo Ghezzi
As a point of reference for software architects and designers to what design activity could be for human beings:
Book: Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crisis
by Cameron Sinclair
ISBN 13: 978-1933-04525-2