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Re: [scrumdevelopment] Re: Outsourcing and Trust

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  • daswartz@prodigy
    Hello Gert, ... In 30 years (has it really been that long?!) of software development jobs, I ve met very very few developers who I believe consciously did a
    Message 1 of 9 , Oct 2, 2009
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      Hello Gert,

      Thursday, October 1, 2009, 10:07:08 AM, you wrote:

      > It is also true that because it is quantifiable that managers could
      > use it as a stick in bad ways. Regardless of the environment my
      > interest lies more in the psyche of the developer that deliberately
      > undermines the value for personal gain.

      In 30 years (has it really been that long?!) of software development
      jobs, I've met very very few developers who I believe consciously
      did a bad job. I've known some who are highly motivated by personal
      advancement and money, and I've worked with some who I felt chose the
      wrong career because they simply were not very good at their jobs.
      Personal gain, however, isn't intrinsically a bad thing, and I believe
      I've known people who would add blank lines to their code (without
      actually decreasing the quality of the code itself, or slowing down
      productivity) if management were stupid enough to count lines of code
      as a meaningful good thing.

      <personalAnecdote> 25+ years ago I was working as a mainframe developer
      at a relatively large (100+ developers) shop. One day a VP
      called my team leader into a meeting and asked him "Why do Doug and
      Gary run two to three times as many compiles as every other
      programmer in the shop?". My team leader explained that Gary and Doug
      were two of the most productive developers he had ever worked with.
      Neither Gary nor I changed our behavior, but if my next raise had
      depended on it, I might have (while I looked for a new job).
      </personalAnecdote>

      > When I did my SCRUM training Ken spent a good portion of the time
      > on trust and not micromanaging every individual. Give them the
      > responsibility and allow them to perform to the best of their ability.

      Trust is a two way street, takes time to establish, and, especially
      early in a relationship, is easily undermined. I have no visibility
      into the situations you've described, so can't comment specifically.
      Here are questions I would ask

      Do the outsourcing firm and the contracting firm have a good history.
      Is that good history reflected in contract terms which encourage the
      outsourcer to work closely with the customer to create the best
      possible system, or are the terms more like: "deliver exactly to spec,
      exactly on-time, with a bonus for automated test coverage".

      Do the developers have a cultural history of disincentives of various
      sorts for "thinking", or a history of being encouraged to step up to
      take on responsibility? Is there a history of "development silver
      bullet of the year", with management words usually not matching their
      actions, and no real evidence yet of long term commitment to "this
      agile thing"?

      > When I tried to "sell" TDD to a large internal outsourced team, the
      > management response was that they will "cook the books". If you have
      > that level of distrust SCRUM (or waterfall) will fail, or produce
      > mediocre results.

      What is an "internal outsourced team"?

      Low trust levels certainly contribute to mediocre results. And yet,
      I'm interested in what books could be cooked? For books to exist,
      something must be measured. Honestly, I can't imagine a measure of TDD
      that would be meaningful.

      > My interest is more on the personality traits and motivation of the
      > individuals. Is this more prevalent in outsourced vs. co-located
      > teams? What role does culture and personal ethics play for success?

      I find this area interesting as well. My college psychology professor
      had one primary rule "People vary.". Individuals will have differing
      attitudes and reactions. I believe company culture is a large factor.
      I suspect national/ethnic culture is a much smaller factor.

      > I personally believe personality and technical depth of team
      > members are the primary contributing factors for success. SCRUM and
      > good leadership will definitely improve the odds but I think
      > technical managers tend to spend too little time on our people skills.

      Absolutely. "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"


      --
      doug Swartz
    • Archer, Jonathan
      ... I m a Brit working in the US who has worked with teams in both those countries as well as Germany, Belarus and India. In my opinion, culled from my
      Message 2 of 9 , Oct 2, 2009
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        This piece of the conversation is interesting to me:

        >> My interest is more on the personality traits and motivation of the
        >> individuals. Is this more prevalent in outsourced vs. co-located
        >> teams? What role does culture and personal ethics play for success?

        > I find this area interesting as well. My college psychology professor
        > had one primary rule "People vary.". Individuals will have differing
        > attitudes and reactions. I believe company culture is a large factor.
        > I suspect national/ethnic culture is a much smaller factor.

        I'm a Brit working in the US who has worked with teams in both those
        countries as well as Germany, Belarus and India. In my opinion, culled
        from my experience, you will definitely find a wide variety of attitudes
        and behaviors within a single national/ethnic culture. Nonetheless,
        understanding the general outlook that permeates a culture can help with
        understanding and cooperation within a team with a diverse make up.
        There definitely are differences and personally I found myself much less
        frustrated once I better understood this.

        For example, I see much greater willingness to be critical of things and
        offer suggestions from people I've worked with in Belarus than in India.
        This makes certain aspects of agile thinking (retrospectives :-) harder
        for some folks from India initially. However, a colleague of mine who
        has worked with teams there for longer than me says that with the right
        approach it's quite possible to get folks to overcome their reluctance
        in this area.

        This website has some short but useful profiles of various countries
        that I certainly found helpful in understanding this kind of thing:
        http://www.worldbusinessculture.com/ (no, not affiliated to them in
        anyway... :-)

        Cheers,
        Jon
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