Befehl ist Befehl

The Nuremberg Defense is a legal defense that essentially states that the defendant was “only following orders” (“Befehl ist Befehl”) and is therefore not responsible for his crimes. The defense was most famously employed during the Nuremberg Trials, after which it is named.
Source: Wikipedia, Nuremberg Defense

The QA Department often hears the phrase “but it is signed-off” used by staff & clients to defend the indefensible. At this point, it is the QA Department’s job to persuade the team to do the right thing.

Example #1
The OLM Studio deliver a series of banners to QA. The words on the banners are unreadable, the letters in the words barely recognisable. The Studio staff say they know this to be the case “but the Creative Director has signed the font off”.

Example #2
Team M deliver two emails to QA. The emails are very similar, differing only in the details of the offer: “Because we know you are a vegetarian, here’s a tasty deal on tofu” and “because we know you are a meat eater, here’s a tasty deal on turkey”. The client requires us to deploy both emails to the same data list on the same day “because I do not know which of my customers is which, so send them all both versions and they can work it out for themselves.”

Example #3
Team U deliver an online competition to QA. “Don’t bother checking the competition terms and conditions (Ts&Cs) page. It has already been signed-off by the client’s legal team and must not be changed.” Inspection reveals the Ts&Cs name the competition wrongly, the start and end dates are wrong, the company moved from the given address three years ago and four of the twenty-five Ts&Cs contain standard “lorem ipsum” holding copy.

Sign-off is important, yes, but the fact that QA staff received sign-off from the client or management does not relieve them from responsibility, provided a sensible choice was in fact possible to them.
Source: QA Department

And finally …
Idi Amin: I want you to tell me what to do.
Nicholas Garrigan: You want ME to tell YOU what to do?
Idi Amin: Yes, you are my advisor. You are the only one I can trust in here. You should have told me not to throw the Asians out, in the first place.
Nicholas Garrigan: I DID!
Idi Amin: But you did not persuade me, Nicholas. You did not persuade me!
Source: Memorable quotes from the film The Last King of Scotland (2006)

First posted: 19 November 2007 on

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