Well, I'm back to bring you an awesome video of Mary Poppendieck. From that video I got the inspiration to write the previous article.

A little background information about her would come in handy here:

Mary Poppendieck has been in the information technology industry for 25 years. She has managed solutions for companies in several disciplines, including supply chain management, manufacturing systems, and digital media. As a seasoned leader in both operations and new product development, she provides a business perspective to software development problems.
Lean development is just one of Ms. Poppendieck's areas of expertise. She first encountered the Toyota Production System, which later became known as Lean Production, as Information Systems Manager in a video tape manufacturing plant. She implemented one of the first just-in-time systems in 3M, resulting in dramatic improvements in the plant's performance. Ms. Poppendieck's team leadership skills are legendary at 3M, where new product development is a core competency. One team commercialized a graphics interface controller three times faster than normal. Another team not only developed an image database system in partnership with a start-up company, but also set a new international standard for image formats. Poppendieck, a popular writer and speaker, is the author of Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit and Managing Director of AgileAlliance.
 And the video. It's a MUST WATCH for any leader in the software development business.

Enlaces a esta entrada
'morning folks!

The entire week I ruminated about what should I write this weekend. I almost began a blog post about some neat group management techniques that may come in handy when we are talking about the SysAdmin way of working, an agile way to improve efficiency and productivity on an area which focus is mainly on putting out fires. But I won't be ranting about that (maybe next week). Instead, I'll try to express some thoughts that come from experience and personal learning, about how leadership should be in an agile environment.

Let's go back in time about 100 years, in order to remember some things about work management a nice north-american fellow said:

   - Workers are lazy, they will always do as little as possible.
   - Workers do not care about quality
   - Workers are not smart enough to know the best way to do they job.

That, in a nutshell, is what Taylor said at the time about which was the best way to manage the workforce.

No, not Roger Taylor.. he rules!

Let's also remember that this was a time of immigration. Lots of people were moving from Europe to America, and those people had to be put to work in the steel mill, the environment where this was mostly applied. That kind of strategy was thoroughly stated in a book he wrote, The principles of scientific management, and it entails the de-humanization of the workplace, de-skilling the worker and pretty much putting as much pressure on your employees as you can, 'cos, hey.. those lazy inmmigrants surely can't speak english, they must be dumb! Can't trust'em.. I tell ya.. (read that in a red-neck tone of voice)

It's amazing how much we've (not) progressed in the last 100 years with regard to this. One of my jobs about 5 years ago, before I landed one in the Software Development business, was at an enterprise that sold alarms and monitoring, and man.. they were exploiters.. It only lasted a month.. couldn't stand this guy who thought that because he was giving me some little money in exchange (and I can't emphasize enough the "little" part), he was entitled to yell and be unpolite with regard to my work.. He actualy believed that pressure only would make me do my job better. That's a fireproof way of driving away the people that you're in charge of.

Another point of view about management of the people and groups that could be added here is this. The historians have formed theories of value, one of which we could call "Spanish Theory of Value". It states that there's a fixed amount of value on earth, and we should extract it all in an efficient way, be this from the earth itself or from other people's backs. Then there's another theory of value that says that value could be created from technology and ingenuity. This we'll call the "English Theory of Value". In history, the results of each of those theories were the Industrial Revolution in England, while Spain exploited the land of the people of South America (and the people) in order to take precious gold to Europe (that backfired on them with a huge inflation afterwards).

Pictured: A modern successful manager that advocates to the Spanish Theory of Value

I'd like to quote a book I've been reading these days, Peopleware: Productive projects and teams. Excellent book by the way:

The Spanish Theory of Value is alive and well among managers everywhere. You see that whenever they talk about productivity. Productivity ought to mean achieving more in an hour of work, but all too often it has come to mean extracting more for an hour of pay. There is a large difference. The Spanish Theory managers dream of attaining new productivity levels through the simple mechanism of unpaid overtime. They divide whatever work is done in a week by forty hours, not by the eighty or ninety hours that the worker actually put in.
That's not exactly productivity—it's more like fraud—but it's the state of the art for many [...] managers. They bully and cajole their people into long hours. They impress upon them how important the delivery date is (even though it may be totally arbitrary; the world isn't going to stop just because a project completes a month late). They trick them into accepting hopelessly tight schedules, shame them into sacrificing any and all to meet the deadline, and do anything to get them to work longer and harder.
So, we pretty much nailed down the kind of managers we are talking about.

How does all of this relate with the Agile Methodology? Well, as the English Theory of Value states, through technology and ingenuity, productivity can be boosted. In this case, the ingenuity of time-management, project management, and above all of this, giving people respect for their work.

All of this should be easy to implement and do in a working environment, but sometimes it is not. Lets remember *always* that we are talking about people, and that people must be prepared to take this philosophy to the full extent of it. Otherway, it won't work.

How should an agile team leader be, and what should he do, in order to better do his job? I think he should:

- First of all, know a lot about the agile methodology. It doesn't end with stand-ups.

- Be able to say "no" to the product owner, if he believes that the amount of work the PO is taking from the backlog into the monthly or weekly iteration is not achievable or unreasonable.

- Know the people he is in charge of. Their skills, motivations, way of working, hell.. even hobbies. The employees must be able to trust him and take him as a reference, he must know what people can and can't do, and devise new ways to bring them up to the challenge.

- If somehow an employee fails to do his job, investigate to the full extent what were the causes of this. Perhaps some guy was left by his wife and has not been able to sleep in a month because of depression, or has family issues, or just can't stand their coworkers because they had an argument or a fight. If the leader is not trusted, people won't open up to him. He won't be able to lead anything, merely to do some clerk work.

- Bring ideas and new ways of working to the team, so things that should be done in a better way will be. And listen to people that give him proposals. Remember, what an agile leader should value the most is the people.

- Protect the team. If his role is to be the leader of a team, he should protect it and nurture it in a way that the people that's in that team really *wants* to be there, not just because they get paid a lot of money. Just giving people more money is *not* the solution. Create a good environment, bring some perks to the office so that employees feel happier. Organize dinners, make people mingle so that when they have to work together, all of the roughness that could be there is wiped away, then they trust each other and know the person that is their daily wingman. We're talking about a team, not just some workers thrown together.

And perhaps build a diverse multi-ethnic group.. those always seem to be happy

There is certainly more that should be put on that list, but those are the basics. It's Leadership 101. If you have a team leader that:

- Says "yes" to everything the product owner asks, and then puts pressure on the team so they work unpaid overtime in order to be able to make it before the deadline.

- Does his job the way he knows, but never bothers to find out how to do it in a better way, or is not genuinely interested in learning more in order to be the best proffesional he could be.

- When the product owner puts pressure on him, he only knows to turn and put that same pressure on the team.

- Doesn't think of any ideas so that productivity gets boosted.

- Doesn't really care for the teamworkers.

You don't have a leader. You have a problem.
Enlaces a esta entrada
Related Posts with Thumbnails