Friday, June 18, 2010

Meddling, Oversight, and Agile, Oh My!

A friend of mine (Hi George D) suggested that this would make a good poster,
but all I have is a couple of blogs, so here is the message that inspired
my buddy.

My experience is that the less well a team has done in the past,
the more oversight is piled on, and that oversight reaches higher
and higher levels. There really is no legitimate reason for the
CEO to want to know which programmer 5 or more levels below was
assigned to a particular task and if he's behind schedule by a
week or so.

In healthier organizations, the groups and managers that interface
with the development group tend not to have the same meddlesome urges.

In our transitions, the biggest problem we face tends to be peeling
back the expensive and unnecessary oversight. If the team can be
rebooted and work with a single stream of smaller, simpler stories
(rest of agile practices included) then they can win over the
rest of the org in relatively short order. Sometimes in only a
year or two, sometimes in less than 6 months.

It's hard to overcome meddlesome urges, especially when they are in
reaction to difficult past history (and moreso if there is competition
among the meddlers to get their work done).

Tools play into that. People want tools partly so that they can
pile on too much work (more than fits in a head or on a board)
and partly so that they can meddle from the comfort of a remote

Agile is, among other things, a very intense and orderly way to
get work done. It's just hard to get the focus of a conflicted
organization on getting work done in an intense and orderly way.