Final Thesis: Positive Feedback in Software Engineering

Abstract: Continuous improvement of products and processes is one of the key goals of any software development team striving for success in its company. As we know from the practice, necessary improvements are not only hard to identify but sometimes it is even harder to integrate them into a working routine, they are met with hidden, unconscious, and sometimes even open resistance. The reasons for the resistance mainly originated from negative behavioral patterns, such as bad habits, past mistakes, negative work environment, unresolved conflicts, etc. To promote continuity of the improvements and keeping obtained progress, control mechanisms should be performed. Feedback serves as a communication channel to convey the output from the performed control mechanisms and the main goal of feedback is to improve performance. In industrial practice, it is more common to provide negative feedback rather than positive. Good stable performance and a positive atmosphere in a team are more commonly taken for granted. As the German proverb says “Nicht kritisiert ist genug gelobt”, which means “If you haven’t been criticized then it’s already a praise”. This demonstrates a habitual perception of lack of positive feedback. Positive feedback can help to avoid resistance against continuous improvement, as well as it can develop a good habit for repetitive good performance. Literature review and interviews have demonstrated that positive feedback has a positive impact on individuals and on the team itself, by motivating team members, making them confident in self-efficacy on their behold position, more satisfied with their job, and in general, happier with their life. Steve Jobs, who is one of the most influential people in the history of IT, said “But it’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.” He truly believed that great success and revolutionary changes in the world can be achieved by prioritizing people rather than technologies. In the research, we have explored positive feedback in software engineering, factors that impact on the individuals’ perception of the received feedback, as well as the human aspects that impact on the feedback evaluation. We have also found best practices, metrics that help to achieve high-quality product, and therefore, they promote to receive positive feedback by well-written requirements, efficient design, source code, testing. We also suggest to adopt positive feedback mechanisms in the software development process to boost productivity and performance of the team.

Keywords: Requirements Engineering, Feedback Mechanism, Communication, Software Engineering

PDF: Master Thesis

Reference: Jahan Rahmanova. Positive Feedback in Software Engineering. Master Thesis, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg: 2022.