Management 3.0: Knowledge and Diversity
January 20, 2015
Last year I read Jurgen Appelo's Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders. Despite taking many useful notes, I did not have the time to write up a full review / collect my thoughts on it. Overall impression: this books has tremendous value, and I recommend it highly to anyone in IT management / leadership (whether operations or software).
I look forward to re-reading it in the near future. For now, I will satisfy myself by re-collecting and re-pondering a few of those notes, starting with the topics of Knowledge and Diversity (from Ch 4 - The Information-Innovation System)
“… people's expertise is not the most important indicator of their performance. Instead, what actually makes a difference is their connectivity in the organization.”
As I think back on my career, I can see the truth of that. As an individual programmer, it can be tempting to keep your head down and "merely" stay focused on your work. But it you want to improve the environment, and if you want foster a high performing team, then you'll have to go beyond the narrow confines of self. You need to get to know other teams, learning about what drives their good days and bad.
These other teams hold the business requirements that feed into the software development, they review the provisional output, they install the output, they support it after the fact. Without strong connections to the rest of the organization, a software development shop is likely to end up producing product that does not satisfy end users and does not meet the company's objectives.
Of course Appelo goes into more detail than this snippet provides.
Diversity and inclusiveness are two essential pre-requisites for success in all human endeavors. Not everyone shares that idea, and for those of us who hold these ideas as key values, it is often still a struggle to express them positively and holistically.
In his characteristic way, Appelo uses scientific metaphors to help us understand the importance and meaning of diversity. He then links that directly to key aspects of management and software leadership - particularly warning us of "the tendency to hire lookalikes." Describing what I have always called unity in diversity, Appelo concludes this section by acknowledging that "There has to be some balance and sufficient common ground so that all diverging views are still connected in a bigger pattern."
It is well known that the IT industry has a dearth of diversity, cutting across many different demographics. Hopefully, this section helps a few more people understand the creative strength that can come from having teams composed of people with different experiences and perspectives, who are nevertheless able to strive together in pursuit of the organization's goals.
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