I read this post over at Slacker Manager the other day that really made me think. To get the context of this post you’ll have to go give it a read. It is ok, I’ll wait.
The culture of Blind Obedience
To get to the point, this culture really pisses me off. I hate most processes but having one rammed down my throat or being told to “just do it” really rubs me the wrong way. I think there will always be those people out there that take this approach but I won’t work for one.
The culture of Informed Acquiescence
I think I can say the majority of the jobs I have had in the software industry have fallen into this category. A number of times I have run into challenges working with other teams, not because they are being difficult but because they are working towards their own goals that may not align with mine. The problem here is not with one of the teams but both. An organization should be moving the same direction guided by a shared vision and objectives.
The culture of Self-governance
Ahhh self-governance, the perfect culture right? In theory I love it and that is where I want to be. I want to be in a position where I have the tools and authority so I can exceed expectations. This requires knowledge to be shared freely so informed decisions can be made by all which are guided by organizations goals.
But, and it is a big but. Would it work? Like most things in the workplace it boils down to the people you work with. Think about the people you work with now, would you want to give everyone the power that could make or break the project or the company?
I’m not discounting the newbie. I think everyone needs the chance to learn through their own experiences. I would have more trust in an eager newbie than someone that has a few years of experience but is completely task driven (i.e. needs to be told what task should be done after task A, B, and C).
Maybe I’m just not a very trusting person. Maybe it is just because I haven’t been a part of a self-governed culture. Maybe it has been just too damn hot and I’m grumpy but I’m not buying in that a pure self-governance culture would work in most cases.
What I believe the author of this post saying is the driving factor in these cultures is trust. Trust however, isn’t just being trustworthy; trust also includes trust of competency. You might have the most open an honest doctor but if your doctor tells you they feel faint every time they perform a surgery would you still trust them with your life? When there is a lack of trust you get more process.
Additional Process does not equal Addition Trust
Additional Process equals a poor substitute for trust.