Monthly Archives: March 2008

Let The Inmates Run The Asylum

One of my colleagues recently sent me a quote from this site which tickled me a bit.

“Those who do not have a clue are still debating about the process.
Those who know, just do it. (56)”

When reading through the rest of the quotes on the page I find the following one more interesting though:

“If you want to be a great leader, stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts and the team will govern itself.
The more prohibitions you have, the less disciplined the team will be.
The more coercion you exert, the less secure the team will be.
The more external help you call, the less self-reliant the team will be. (57)”

I must confess, I’m no Taoist, nor (other than having read The Tao of Pooh, which is another story) do I know that much about it, particularly in the context of Software Development, but in the respect of what a manager can do to establish a well functioning team or department, I agree with a lot of the points above.

I’ve witnessed my fair share of change in what is a relatively short career, I’ve seen it instigated by managers and I’ve also observed it come from the people on the ground. Each approach has it’s relative merits in any given situation, in my opinion though, the act of facilitating change will tend to success more than a command and control structure.

Self organising teams need to be nurtured, they need to feel as though they are empowered to make change, furthermore and perhaps most importantly they need a clear vision of their remit as well as some parameters to operate within.

I think that it is relatively easy to define the vision and parameters for a development team; they should seek to deliver value, aggressively tackle waste and to do both of those continually.

One of the things that is starting to interest me more and more though is business transformation and how some of the agile techniques such as self organisation can be applied. I believe that self organisation can be used as a mechanism to deliver enterprise change however, I think it is even more important to ensure success that a clear vision is communicated and that some definite parameters even if these may change later, to work within are stated.