Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Command and Control Management


Joel on Software: The Command and Control Management

The third drawback is that in a high tech company the individual contributors always have more information than the “leaders,” so they are really in the best position to make decisions. When the boss wanders into an office where two developers have been arguing for two hours about the best way to compress an image, the person with the least information is the boss, so that’s the last person you’d want making a technical decision. I remember when Mike Maples was my great grand-boss, in charge of Microsoft Applications, he was adamant about refusing to take sides on technical issues. Eventually people learned that they shouldn’t come to him to adjudicate. This forced people to debate the issue on the merits and issues were always resolved in favor of the person who was better at arguing, er, I mean, issues were always resolved in the best possible way.

This actually makes me aware of the fact that I can not remember a single technical argument in my current team, but instead managers or not directly involved developers get briefed on open issues and take part in finding a solution where no one is ego involved with his solution.
Can't say the same about previous jobs.

--- comment from Dani Mueri 2006-08-10

From the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell ...
You've got to let people work out the situation and work out what's happening. The danger in calling is that they will tell you anything to get you off their backs, and if you act on that and take it at face value, you could make a mistake. Plus you are diverting them. Now they are looking upward instead of downward. You've preventing them from resolving the situation.

There are several standing orders for soldiers. Number one: if you are in a mine field, freeze. Makes sense, right? It was drilled into you repeatedly during basic training. Every once in a while the instructor would shout out “Mine!” and everybody had to freeze just so you would get in the habit.

Standing order number two: when attacked, run towards your attackers while shooting. The shooting makes them take cover so they can’t fire at you. Running towards them causes you to get closer to them, which makes it easier to aim at them, which makes it easier to kill them. This standing order makes a lot of sense, too.

OK, now for the Interview Question. What do you do if you’re in a minefield, and people start shooting at you?

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