Thursday, August 19, 2010

Do I Need Yet Another Reason to Justify "Agility"?

I haven't blogged in a while, but an email from someone triggered me to put up some Agile thoughts.

Someone emailed me an issue today. I thought I would share it with you and include my response:

"... due to an entirely unnecessary international conference call with a brand new manager-type of a big International customer who suddenly thrust himself into a long-running discussion with their Indian subsidiary. Of course, we now have to dance around and kiss HIS culo, so I have to be in the office at an ungodly hour.

I find that the profitability of successful companies disguises a lot of fatty tissue (i.e. not-very-busy Manager-types). So we get a "suddenly self-appointed stake-holder" who is high enough in the mucky-muck list so you can do nothing about it. Of course, after spending all this time and effort to get him/her involved, they fade away, leaving a giant hole in the team's productivity. Anybody have ideas on how to handle these? Suggestions appreciated."

No solution comes to mind except simply supporting an Agile and transparent process should do the trick. Here is some background on the type of attitude that is at work here:

Eventually, these people end up quitting on their own if it becomes impossible for them to hide their antics. Reasons given for quitting usually are "I've outgrown the company", "I need new challenges", etc.

Watch for behaviours such as forcing themselves to be the point of contact for major customers and purposely leaving people in the dark wrt to these customers so they appear to be more knowledgeable. After the useful people have been fired for ineffectiveness (because now they look like they are the fatty parts of the company that can be trimmed), this person ends up with a raise and higher title due to the amount of responsibility. And because they are the ones in contact with clients, they appear to be the only one to have the tools to calm an irate client. They've now become a bottle neck and productivity starts to crawl as the idea of delegating anything wrt requirements is not possible.

Once they quit because the found a better job, productivity goes through the roof! The higher ups instantly know that the joke was on them for the last 2-4 years since this person was hired. They were able to find a better job because on paper it looks like they were doing so well - including a promotion in a relatively short amount of time.

I've seen this at least a couple of times during my consulting days. I call these people "professional ladder climbers". To them, the only goal is to get promoted, get a raise and has nothing to do with making the organization effective. As long as they satisfy the optics, no one is the wiser until it's too late to do anything about it and they've gone to greener pastures.

This is why I support a transparent process. Agile stuff makes this possible. Now to implement some of these processes in government offices so our tax dollars can go to teachers and charities instead of these narcissistic leaches. I suspect most are not self-aware enough or don't care to know their impact on society or those immediately around them.