[Guest Post: Craig Strong, MBCS CSM has been involved with software production for over 12 years and is currently contracting as a ScrumMaster for Sky. Having been a developer Craig has experienced first hand the effects and problems when being managed by various project management techniques and frameworks. On a daily basis Craig is responsible for managing,coaching and improving cross functional teams using Agile. Follow him on Twitter @craigstrong and blogs at www.c6s.co.uk]
Do we really need to do that?
One of the embedded issues which often exists in most cultures is the accumulation of processes. Processes make people comfortable and empowered. People are generally creatures of habit and enjoy routine. If people feel good about such things its tempting and common to see more processes emerging to strengthen or improving the existing processes. Now don’t get me wrong, certain processes and frameworks are essential and have high value to business. However sometimes where they exist, they are the main focus and not what the process was setup in the first place to achieve.
When you get a group of people together and put them on the same project they are not a team they are simply a group of individuals. By applying processes, frameworks or tools to this group it’s likely they will simply be a group of individuals using processes, frameworks and tools. Not only will this not help build a team, but could slow down the group of individuals.You don’t build teams by simply applying a framework or process. Certain processes are inherited from previous projects so they must be applied again. In some cases they didn’t even work well previously, but were in place and therefore must be re-used. There is no such thing as silver bullets which when applied guarantee success.
As the famous quote says :
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. – Albert Einstein
As simple as this sounds, it’s very true. How many of us are routinely writing and/or requesting documentation, forms or following certain processes because we are used to it not because it’s really needed. If you question some of these and ask yourself why you are doing something or why do you need this information and how is it going to be used, you may find that you don’t really need to continue with it. When you stop doing such an activity from then on, you will have free time to do something of value. Not only in such cases can you improve value, but you might just stop doing something which is devaluing the situation.
In Kanban this is often seen when you are visualising workflow. By visualising the workflow you can identify routes of inefficiency and routes to improvement. The same can be discovered when undertaking Lean analysis. This regularly proves to provide fantastic results over time. However sometimes outside the direct workflow of production it’s worth questioning other not so tangible artefacts. In doing so you may eliminate waste and identify micro-management which can and needs to be challenged. A process is not beneficial unless it has a clear value which should be easily identifiable. Value isn’t something which is nice to have, but something which clearly delivers or benefits a person, group, company or product.
So next time you are about to spend 30 or more minutes writing a report or asking someone else to provide you with a graph, ask yourself “Do we really need to do that?”