jueves, 24 de enero de 2008

Peopleware (Parte V)

Esta es la quinta entrega correspondiente al resumen de la quinta sección del libro Peopleware. Pueden acceder a las anteriores entregas aquí:


A pilot project is one in which you set the fat book of standards aside and try some new and unproved technique. The new technique will be unfamiliar initially, and so you can expect to be inefficient at the start in applying it. This is a cost of change. On the other side of the ledger is the improvement in productivity gained from using the new technique. Also on the plus side of the ledger is the Hawthorne Effect, the boost in energy and interest that infuses your people when they're doing something new and different.

One caveat about pilot projects: Don't experiment with more than one aspect of development technology on any given project. For all the talk about the importance of standards, it's surprising how often managers abandon all standards on the rare project that is designated a pilot. They often try out new hardware, new software, new quality control procedures, matrix management, and new prototyping techniques, all on the same project.

War games help you to evaluate your relative strengths and weaknesses and help the organization to observe its global strengths and weaknesses. For these reasons, two of our client companies are now undertaking a program of annual war games, used by their employees to gauge improvements in their own skills over time. Once a year, they subject themselves to the confidential testing process, much as you would submit yourself to a physical exam.

For the purpose of stimulating creative disorder, the most effective form of war game calls for participants to take part in teams. When you pull this off successfully, people will tell you they've had the most exciting and enjoyable experience of their entire careers; nothing less than that is your goal. Expect to achieve that goal, though it may take a few tries.

Running the project through a whole night, for some reason, adds to the fun. People love an excuse to get tired together, to push back sleep and let their peers see them with their hair down, unshaved, rumpled, and grumpy, with no makeup or pretense. And it makes them feel more closely bound to each other.

Perhaps this is a sad comment on the dismal corporate workplace, but everybody relishes a chance to get out of the office. The chance that workers relish most is one combining travel with their peers and a one-of-a-kind experience. It might be going off together for a training session, particularly a provocative one, or taking in the International Conference on Whatever.

Is a few thousand dollars for a getaway experience too rich for your discretionary disorder budget? Maybe you could spring for forty dollars. One of the most innovative managers we know has a penchant for putting on unexpected lunches for his staff. He once went down to the city street and hired a hot dog vendor, complete with cart, sauerkraut, yellow mustard, and a blue and orange umbrella, to come up thirty floors and serve lunch to the team. The
lunch was a nutritionist's nightmare but a sociologist's dream come true. Those who were there got high on good spirits and began to do bits and skits about their work, their managers, and each other. The noise level went up with their enthusiasm. It cost forty dollars and has been talked about ever since. Of course, that manager wrote it up as a business lunch, but it wasn't a lunch at all, it was a celebration.

The mark of the best manager is an ability to single out the few key spirits who have the proper mix of perspective and maturity and then turn them loose. Such a manager knows that he or she really can't give direction to these natural free electrons. They have progressed to the point where their own direction is more unerringly in the best interest of the organization than any direction that might come down from above. It's time to get out of their way.

It doesn't take great prescience to see that one of these measures is all you're likely to pull off successfully. If you try more, you will just diffuse your efforts. The rumpus you'll raise will be more confusing than constructive, and your colleagues and those above you in the corporate hierarchy are likely to write you off as a whiner. One change is plenty. Even a single substantive change to the sociology of your organization will be a mammoth accomplishment.
The key to success in fostering the kind of change we're advocating is that you not try to wrestle the bull. You're certainly not strong enough for that.A single person acting alone is not likely to effect any meaningful change. But there's no need to act alone. When something is
terribly out of kilter (like too much noise in the workplace), it takes very little to raise people's consciousness of it. Then it's no longer just you. It's everyone.

Sociology matters more than technology or even money. It's supposed to be productive, satisfying fun to work. If it isn't, then there's nothing else worth concentrating on. Choose your terrain carefully, assemble your facts, and speak up. You can make a difference...

Copyright © 1999, 1987 by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister.

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