Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Us and them

Among one of the things which is sometimes not addressed by managers while they are forming a team or when a project is starting off is the team or role specific bifurcation of goals which at times leads to the warping of the overall business goal. So the testing team does just testing, the development team does just development, the manager does not really care too much about the business domain and technologies, except perhaps a 35000 foot level summary of the entire solution space.

Add to this, the volatile nature of requirements and stiff timelines - and what you really have is an attitude of "how do I get out of this?". Next comes the strict delineation of responsibilities at a micro level, & therefore it becomes nobody's' responsibility to oversee that the solution as whole is the way it should be.

That everybody is a stakeholder in the project in her own right, is a notion that is neither marketed nor ever sold. Especially in the Indian environment, the drive to get certifications, define and collect metrics, & documentation heavy process models mean that you have just a lot of data ( though I doubt how representative or true these data are), & perhaps a lot accountabilities fixed - but these aren't necessarily contributing to the ultimate business goal i.e. solving the business problem. What this is doing however, is taking focus away at a managerial level from the solution to the solution delivery process. At the same time, such data is important as it is used in future sales pitches.

It is important to revisit and reunderstand the following:

  1. That, irrespective of well defined granular responsibilities, it is ultimately the product that is the most important.
  2. How the team is helping: If actual numbers are not too sensitive, percentages can definitely be exposed. Numbers apart from money can be shared. This will go a long way in cementing a tangible picture of the ultimate business goal that the engagement is helping with.
  3. Encourage communication and personal interaction - Change is inevitable and the turnaround time is of critical importance. It is okay to bypass change management system in the favour of speed & product quality. Increased communication helps build trust and solidarity & helps catalyze such actions.
  4. Look to fix the problem & not the blame/responsibility.


Anonymous said...

will you bring what i asked you, more than a year back from home?
: )

Anonymous said...

yes it is important for everyone to have the big picture in mind as well as in front of our eyes as a constant reminder of what the ultimate goal is. The actions you have stressed on are very important but I suppose they get sidelined in the day to day chasing of deadlines, adhering to processes and documentation that leave no time for the "ideal" situation.


Anonymous said...


If you asked me to bring something, you aren't that anon after all, what? :)

I am sorry I do not remember what you asked me to get, possibly because I have no clue which of my many anon comrades you are...

Exactly. So how do you solve the problem?


Usha said...

One solution could be to have more realistic delivery schedules and not plan for everyone working at their peak levels for 18 hours a day.
Another could be not to have small teams of very highly paid people so you expect them to deliver a lot. In stead you could have a larger team with a more realistic paylevel. I assume that the creativity, productivity and motivation of a larger team might be better than an overworked smaller team of even very smart people.
I am not sure if you can attract the best at a realistic pay level these days in the industry - not because people need that kind of money but because their value is intrinsically linked to the number on the pay cheque.

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