The Corporate IT politics game

In my rss reader there is usually a great deal of wisdom appearing each morning, and today was no difference. But its not often you get one of your problems, described in one and have it partially answered in another.

David Christiansen, author of the superb Technology Darkside blog tells this story, and I can see great similarities with corporate IT. In this case David talks about a dysfunctional team of consultants, but isn’t the same game played everyday in corporate IT? I think its called politics. So take those points and add

  • getting that senior-, specialist-, expert-, whatever added to your title,
  • creating endless cc lists on your email to prove you’re working hard and at the same time provide ass-coverage.
  • coming into the office while nearly-dead, since sick-days are just not for winners and of course
  • the hero anti-pattern.

All this, and many more, in order to keep climbing that corporate ladder. It takes a good manager to recognise these and the fact that they are counter productive and to take actions against it. One very effective cure to these things is to create total transparency to promote recognition by merit. The way Jurgen Appelo describes it here makes perfect and powerful point. One of my previous project managers didn’t actually post the salary spreadsheet on the wall but he threatened to and the effects were quite interesting.

But while this is very contentious, there is plenty of information that is not so and there are lots of tools out there today that makes information about your projects and product readily available. Why not let your continuous integration tool (you do have one, right?) generate a project report each night and publish it to the intranet. And while we are talking about that nightly build, it will break and when it does – make sure its very public, and slightly embarrassing. Project reports could also be public knowledge, which project managers are continuously over budget, which developers keep underestimating their efforts, which testers can’t find bugs? But more important than showing shortcomings, achievement can publicly proclaimed and rewarded. When the builds haven’t failed for a week, its the team leads responsibility to buy the first round of beers, or get that Friday sugar high going  creating that sense of collective achievement.

After all, until this information is in the public domain, how are you going promote recognition by merit? Lets  hope more
corporate IT departments are opening up to Agile and Lean, where
openness and teamwork is the norm.

//J

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