Mike’s Dump

July 24, 2007


Filed under: Work — mikesdump @ 12:02 pm

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.



  1. Your skepticism about the culture of self-governance kind of reminded me of this great post from Joel Spolsky that I read a few years ago when he was still relevant: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000024.html

    Comment by mike — July 24, 2007 @ 8:11 pm | Reply

  2. That has to be one of my favorite Joel posts (forgot about it) especially the moral:

    What’s the moral of the story? Beware of Methodologies. They are a great way to bring everyone up to a dismal, but passable, level of performance, but at the same time, they are aggravating to more talented people who chafe at the restrictions that are placed on them. It’s pretty obvious to me that a talented chef is not going to be happy making burgers at McDonald’s, precisely because of McDonald’s rules. So why do IT consultants brag so much about their methodologies? (Beats me.)

    Hopefully I can find a Methodology that will bring my performance up to a dismal level.

    Comment by mike — July 24, 2007 @ 8:29 pm | Reply

  3. I am all about gaining my lead/boss/manager’s trust. That way I figured, I could …
    1. Get them off looking over my shoulder (so I can continue to surf youtube).
    2. Value my opinion more (so I have free reign on project, it’s myway or the highway baby)
    3. Know that I can always deliver (easy to ask for a raise later, you know what I mean)

    So back to you mike and mike, how do one go about gaining the trust of his lead/boss/manager?

    Comment by Stevo — July 25, 2007 @ 9:28 am | Reply

  4. I’ve never consciously tried to gain the trust of my boss but if I was to list three things I indirectly do:
    1) Bust my ass to never fall short of a personal or team commitment
    2) Be as open and honest as I can even when it hurts
    3) Fail less than I succeed

    Comment by mike — July 25, 2007 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

  5. Developers are a funny bunch. We normally applaud consistency but our world is anything but consistent….

    Comment by Mike's Dump — July 26, 2007 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  6. […] Looking at my own excuse list it is pretty easy to see I’m not ready for “self-governance”. […]

    Pingback by Change « Mike’s Dump — September 8, 2007 @ 8:24 pm | Reply

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