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Re: [XP] [ANN] Managers and Minions or Talent and Admins

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  • Cory Foy
    ... I ve seen this several times with companies moving from a start-up to being a small (or medium) company . It s unfortunate that the cases I ve seen
    Message 1 of 6 , Jun 26, 2008
      Steve Ropa wrote:
      > There is a reason these management structures tend to occur, and I have seen
      > it happen organically more often than not. They result from someone
      > identifying and filling a need. I¹ve never seen anyone say ³hey I¹ve got a
      > great idea for a new product and company. Lets go find some managers!²
      > Once the great idea starts to get developed, starts to build a following,
      > and the company starts to grow, someone might say ³I¹m having trouble making
      > sure all those talented programmers are happy and motivated, and also to
      > make sure we are complying with regulations that are important in our
      > industry. Oh, and someone to deal with the fact that Frankie and Johnny
      > just can¹t get along. Oh, not to mention I have to have financial forecasts
      > to satisfy the VC.²

      I've seen this several times with companies moving from a "start-up" to
      being a "small (or medium) company". It's unfortunate that the cases
      I've seen weren't more agile in their approach to doing this, since it
      seems like the cases I've seen, the following happens. The people who
      have been there and were used to working directly with the product owner
      (usually the founder/owner) now find themselves reporting to someone.
      Multiple controls start being put into place. Change Control.
      Documentation requirements. Meetings. Having to schedule meetings to get
      some of the Owner's time instead of just popping over. Reviews.
      Promotions. Raises. Purchase Orders. Approval of Purchase Orders.

      Suddenly the productivity drops, and the new managers impose more
      controls in an effort to stabilize the situation. The owner, now very
      busy with funding efforts and marketing efforts, has no idea that both
      productivity and satisfaction (and likely quality as well) has now
      dropped significantly.

      Companies that survive seem to find a way to fix this. But it seems that
      if we could find a less extreme way to do that transition (perhaps
      guided by a mix of managers, admins and talents) life would be easier
      during the move.

      --
      Cory Foy
      http://www.cornetdesign.com
      http://www.agileflorida.com
    • linux_tim
      My problem is that you are asking me to choose between M&Ms or T&A. ... From: Steve Ropa Sent: June 25, 2008 2:12 PM To: XP
      Message 2 of 6 , Jun 27, 2008
        My problem is that you are asking me to choose between M&Ms or T&A.

        :-)

        -----Original Message-----
        From: Steve Ropa <theropas2@...>
        Sent: June 25, 2008 2:12 PM
        To: XP <extremeprogramming@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: Re: [XP] [ANN] Managers and Minions or Talent and Admins

        My problem with both of those extremes is that there is an assumption that
        one group adds value, and the other is just those who couldn¹t cut it. I
        have many times been dismayed at the strange belief that managers are really
        just a bunch of talentless hacks who learned how to game the system so that
        they could get the office with a nice chair.

        In my view, accepting the Whole Team view of the world, where everyone
        applies their talents, whatever they may be, to the common cause of the
        team, is ideal. Some folks are natural leaders. They may or may not be the
        best ³talent² in the technical arena.

        There is a reason these management structures tend to occur, and I have seen
        it happen organically more often than not. They result from someone
        identifying and filling a need. I¹ve never seen anyone say ³hey I¹ve got a
        great idea for a new product and company. Lets go find some managers!²
        Once the great idea starts to get developed, starts to build a following,
        and the company starts to grow, someone might say ³I¹m having trouble making
        sure all those talented programmers are happy and motivated, and also to
        make sure we are complying with regulations that are important in our
        industry. Oh, and someone to deal with the fact that Frankie and Johnny
        just can¹t get along. Oh, not to mention I have to have financial forecasts
        to satisfy the VC.²

        My point, and I do have one, is that there are lots of talents in the
        business world, and they should all be recognized. Rather than worry about
        whether there should be managers, worry about making sure that you have the
        most talented managers, just as you want to make sure you have the most
        talented programmers.


        Regards,

        Steve


        On 6/25/08 11:32 AM, "Craig Davidson" <craigmdavidson@...> wrote:

        >
        >
        >
        > Hi Folks,
        >
        > I've been thinking about how different organisational structures can achieve
        > success when trying to become more "agile".
        >
        > For me the biggest influence on the outcome is whether the organisation
        > structures itself around 'managers and minions' or 'talent and admins'.
        > I've written up my thoughts here:
        > http://www.agileadvisor.com/2008/06/managers-and-minions-or-talent-and.html.
        > The important bits below.... thoughts??
        >
        > <snip>
        > It seems in software development, and in the general world of work there are
        > two views of how best to structure organisations. At one end there is the
        > 'Managers and Minions' view and at the other the 'Talent and Admins' view
      • Steve Ropa
        I would agree with your assessment. I would argue that its part of ³growing up² as a company though. Some of the controls become necessary to satisfy the
        Message 3 of 6 , Jun 27, 2008
          I would agree with your assessment. I would argue that its part of ³growing
          up² as a company though. Some of the controls become necessary to satisfy
          the investors. Its ugly, but its true. Now, you also put the
          Sarbanes-Oxley monster into the mix. Then there¹s the problem that the
          founder/owner ends up having to be in a hundred places at once. Happily,
          most of the experiences I¹ve had have been that the folks who started
          working directly with the founder/owner are still able to, they just end up
          having others reporting to them.

          We can be truly Agile even within these management structures. The trick,
          and its hard, is to make sure to stay dedicated to that, and to make sure
          your leadership stays dedicated to it as a mind-set. As you say, the
          challenge is in the transition. I just started as development director at a
          company that has had less success then they¹d like in that transition. The
          gentleman who hired me said that the reason he chose me is that he wants me
          to help them turn that around. Here¹s hoping!

          Steve


          On 6/26/08 5:59 AM, "Cory Foy" <usergroup@...> wrote:

          >
          >
          >
          > Steve Ropa wrote:
          >> > There is a reason these management structures tend to occur, and I have
          >> seen
          >> > it happen organically more often than not. They result from someone
          >> > identifying and filling a need. I¹ve never seen anyone say ³hey I¹ve got a
          >> > great idea for a new product and company. Lets go find some managers!²
          >> > Once the great idea starts to get developed, starts to build a following,
          >> > and the company starts to grow, someone might say ³I¹m having trouble
          >> making
          >> > sure all those talented programmers are happy and motivated, and also to
          >> > make sure we are complying with regulations that are important in our
          >> > industry. Oh, and someone to deal with the fact that Frankie and Johnny
          >> > just can¹t get along. Oh, not to mention I have to have financial
          >> forecasts
          >> > to satisfy the VC.²
          >
          > I've seen this several times with companies moving from a "start-up" to
          > being a "small (or medium) company". It's unfortunate that the cases
          > I've seen weren't more agile in their approach to doing this, since it
          > seems like the cases I've seen, the following happens. The people who
          > have been there and were used to working directly with the product owner
          > (usually the founder/owner) now find themselves reporting to someone.
          > Multiple controls start being put into place. Change Control.
          > Documentation requirements. Meetings. Having to schedule meetings to get
          > some of the Owner's time instead of just popping over. Reviews.
          > Promotions. Raises. Purchase Orders. Approval of Purchase Orders.
          >
          > Suddenly the productivity drops, and the new managers impose more
          > controls in an effort to stabilize the situation. The owner, now very
          > busy with funding efforts and marketing efforts, has no idea that both
          > productivity and satisfaction (and likely quality as well) has now
          > dropped significantly.
          >
          > Companies that survive seem to find a way to fix this. But it seems that
          > if we could find a less extreme way to do that transition (perhaps
          > guided by a mix of managers, admins and talents) life would be easier
          > during the move.



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