Recently, I met with a group of managers who work in an organization moving towards agile methods. People seem to be happy working on cross-functional teams. They solve problems and work things out without management intervention. Best of all, they produce working software that the customers like. This makes the managers happy.
But the managers have a lingering concern: How will we know that senior developers are doing senior level work? How will we know they aren’t slacking off?
I hear variations on this question in many of the larger organizations I work with.
So let’s unpack what might be going on here.
It could be that these managers have no experience how teams work together to produce results. They don’t have a visceral understanding of what it feels like to say, “We can’t single out one person’s contribution. We did this together.” Their own experience as managers in the organization reinforces the individual focus. In many organizations, management rewards and incentives leads to local optimization at the expense of over all goals–which obscures the interdependency of their work.
“Manager think” is shaped by emphasis on individual achievement in formative institutions such as schools, and by HR policies within their organizations. For example, individual ranking/rating systems ignore interdependency. Finely differentiated...read more