Dangers of Optimizing for “Role Success”

Could you imagine what the human body would be like if each organ in the body were incentivized and managed according to separate role-specific criteria?

Perhaps we want all our body parts to pull their weight and be productive. The heart may be encouraged to increase its beats per minute by 15% day over day. Your poor eyes might be measured on reducing blinks to ensure more constant sight. The stomach could be subject to any number of possible scenarios – keep up the flow of digestion with less stomach acid (“do more with less!”) or ramp up productivity by creating more acid (“100% utilization!”). Just think about how your lungs could be subject to performance management! What a mess it would be… the human body would be so out of sync you might even question if it could remain functioning. No need to wonder; when we manage the body this way, the results are catastrophic.

If the detriment to complex systems is evident in managing parts, why do we similarly manage our companies to the tune of “Role Success”? Continue reading

Taking Flight: Coaching is not a Full-Time Role

scaringbirds

I recently hosted a learning event for Agile in the San Diego area and had an interesting conversation with an energetic young woman looking to find a ScrumMaster job. During our chat, among other concerns, she lamented on the number of companies that have asked her to justify the role as a full time position.

She’s certainly not the first person to run into this question: many popular Scrum practitioners have posted their thoughts and insights to this query. A common sense line of thought points to the prescribed role defined in the Scrum guide, while further highlighting the need to be economically pragmatic. These seem like safe, surface level thoughts to me. I’d like to try something different: a ScrumMaster is a team coach, and like all coaches (in an Agile work system, not just Scrum), no — the role must not be a permanent position. Continue reading

Rubbish, Folly, and Hiring

blind

This is not a rant caused by a spell of unemployment, nor is it a cry for help or an invitation to a raging pity-party. This is a reminder of the convention of hiring knowledge workers, especially within the software industry, that we allow to coerce our decision making at the expense of our organizations.

In fact, the thoughts in this post have little to do with my present lack of an employer, even while knee-deep in wildly ineffective hiring conversations. Instead, this post primarily contains notes from past engagements where the hiring process felt like throwing darts blindfolded. Continue reading

Our Moral Obligation to Criticize?

kindness

In a management article titled “Radical Candor – The Surprising Secret to Being a Good Boss“, I discovered a quote from the person at the center of the article’s focus, Kim Scott:

“I would argue that criticizing your employees when they screw up is not just your job, it’s actually your moral obligation.”

(If you’d like to take a moment to re-read this quote, or pause to recover from shock, I understand – please take as long as you need.) Continue reading