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Groupism versus Individualism

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  • lawriegallardo
    Having read a fair bit about evolutionary biology, I can t help but wonder whether Scrum places too much emphasis on the group (/team) at the expense of the
    Message 1 of 46 , Oct 26, 2005
      Having read a fair bit about evolutionary biology, I can't help but
      wonder whether Scrum places too much emphasis on the group (/team) at
      the expense of the individual...

      As many people have noted on this forum, many (all?) people have a
      desire to be a "Hero" (and to be recognised as such) on a project.
      Scrum tries to force people to have a different world-view and see
      success purely in terms of the team's success. I can't help wondering
      to what extent this is a good thing. If individuals aren't given the
      freedom to excel (and the freedom to be rewarded for it), do you not
      run the risk of everyone just doing enough to conform to the team norm
      (or else leaving the company to get the recognition they feel they are
      entitled to)? There is a natural instinct to want to be recognised as
      an individual rather than just a component part of a team, and I'm not
      sure that pretending this instinct doesn't exist or trying to stamp it
      out completely is necessarily the way to get the most out of an
      individual (or a team of individuals).

      I've noticed on other forums that some people seem to be very anti
      giving using any sort of individual incentive scheme such as
      individual bonuses (even if these bonuses are decided "democratically"
      by the group) because they fear this might lead to people doing what
      they think will make them look good individually rather than what is
      best for the team as a whole. (In fact this is probably a good
      question: Is it actually possible to do something to make yourself
      look good individually within the context of the Scrum process that
      isn't actually also good for the group?).

      So how do you let a highly enthusiastic genius young developer shine
      in comparison to some unenthusiastic so-so senior developer when they
      are both just viewed as part of a Scrum Team, and how can you reward
      them farily? In fact, how do you get the best out of all individuals
      on a team if they are treated as just part of a team?

      Any thoughts?

      Lawrie.
    • Jessamyn Smith
      ... so I think it is usually a driving force in business. It is usually the measure of the perceived value to the company. Perhaps I might be ... Perhaps it
      Message 46 of 46 , Oct 31, 2005
        On 10/27/05, lawriegallardo <lawriegallardo@...> wrote:
        >
        > I focus on money in my posts because it is usually a scarce resource and so I think it is usually a driving > force in business. It is usually the measure of the perceived value to the company. Perhaps I might be
        > focusing on it for personal reasons because I am currently unemployed. Perhaps it is because if you
        > have ever been poor you crave the security that money brings. However, I've never met anyone who
        wouldn't like more money though. And unless you happen to be working in a very democratic and
        > hierarchically flat company, then there will is always the possibility to wonder why you are valued (/paid)
        > less than others with seemingly less stressful jobs.
         
        Money is rarely the primary motivator, in my experience.  Yes, people need a certain quantity of money to survive, and consumerism (requiring every increasing quantities of money) is highly idealized in this culture.  However, as was noted in (I believe) Peopleware, one of the biggest mistakes companies make is overestimating the motivating power of money.  Most employees do not stay at a company because they are making more money than they could elsewhere, and most employees who leave are NOT in search of a bigger paycheque.  Employee turnover is extremely costly in the software business, so it behooves companies to find out what actually motivates people.
         
        I think you are absolutely right that most people, if offered more money "for free", would take it.  But when the question is, "Should I work harder _right_now_ in the hopes that I get an extra $1000 on my bonus at the end of the year?" most people aren't going to.  I think that if you want a team that is producing as much high quality software as possible, you are going to get a lot further with intrinsic motivations than extrinsic.
         
        I know for myself, when I am working a few extra hours or hammering away at tests, I'm not thinking about money.  I'm thinking about the satisfaction of a job well done, my reputation with coworkers and clients, etc.  I don't think I'm that exceptional, although I do think that, by virtue of being homeschooled, I retained far more self-motivation than most people who are subject to the public school system.  I do believe that there is a basic drive in humans to learn, develop, and grow.  We all have it, or we wouldn't have learned to walk and talk and all the other things little kids learn if given half a chance.
         
        I think that Maslow's hierarchy is a helpful model of human development:
         
        When you are unemployed, your ability to meet your physical needs may come into question, so you will naturally be more focused on the lower levels.  However, for a typical employed software developer, there is no question that he can meet his physical needs.  At this point, he is likely to start focusing on the higher levels in the pyramid, where money is unlikely to help.
         
        I'm no psychologist, but I do quite a bit of reading on the subject.  I have seen a number of studies which indicated that money was not a primary motivating factor for most people.  The only study I can recall offhand which seemed to put money at the top of the list was a survey of medical students, most of whom selected "high income" as their primary reasong for choosing medicine.
         
        Jessamyn
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