Trust me and I do my very best

Some time ago at a customer site

... we had the discussion if developers should be allowed to install software on their own. Usually my opinion is that a developer should have no need to put operations under siege for just a few software installations so we recommended to let the developers install the software on their own choice and demand.

This is an engraving of Hercules performing one of his labors as he forces a bull to the ground. By B. Picart [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons - if you depend on me I will try to pull the bull to the ground.

You might say: "What the hell are you talking about, development with admin rights is precondition to productive software development" - no discussion I think you are right, but this is not what I want to talk about, so let the story move on...

We've been very close to give developers the resources they need, but unfortunately our suggestion was skipped by the boss. The reason was the following: "We should not let people deal with software installations, they might install something wrong and I don't want to make people responsible for their possible faults. So let's take care of it, that nobody does anything wrong." 

I was disappointed, and so were all developers I've talked to. With no trust they could not do anything right and moreover they could not install the tools they need for productive work. It was just keep the standard, do not improve. No trust, no choice...

A few days ago at my workplace

...we had a important meeting ahead of us and my boss said: "I count on you, concerning this topic I have no clue and you are my backup." To me this meant: "Hey guy I put my trust in you and I need your help - he made clear: I depend on your competence." - so I did my very best not to disappoint him and tried to deliver the best I can. I did this because he trusted me, because he laid his reputation in my hands, so I did my best to reward him. Thankfully all went well and right after the meeting he clapped me on my back and said: "Well done, good job!" - We both were proud about what we achieved and it felt great.


Transparency - Sure you can deal with it?

Enterprise, you want to go agile - sure you want?

If you honestly do so, ask yourself, as somebody in charge, the question: "Can we handle the effects of transparency?"

Then split the we and insert instead:

Management, people and culture

The effects of transparency spread wide but are deeply routed in your corporate culture. It is about how you deal with problems: Will you welcome them, will you deny them or even worse will you surrender saying: "That is like the way it works - accept it." 

Furthermore it is about how long will it take to solve problems and when does frustration start how will your people deal with it? Key question still is: will you be able to learn how to improve fast enough, before your system gets to annoyed of transparency?

Some questions to sting yourself

By ZooFari (Own work) CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

  • The unsolvable problems will be addressed - will you spend the time and effort in making the impossible possible?
  • Will you take every problem serious that will be addressed?
  • How patient is the culture of your organisation?
  • How long will people wait before they get annoyed by all the problems perceivable?
  • What if your people are stuck, will they solve problems on their own? 
  • What if people are stuck and get frustrated about the amount of problems every day? 
  • What if your people fear or realize that they archive too little?
  • How will your culture handle and react when problems are addressed?
  • How will you react if people are part of the problem? 
  • What if you as a manager are part of the problem? 
  • Are your people comfortable being naked in business? 

There is a lot more to ask, but if you do feel uncomfortable with this rethink your intend about an agile transition. If you do say, transparency is no problem at all, then you might have a great organisation or you've lost touch with the culture of your organisation. 

The only thing I can highly recommend is: Go to the people who work, get firsthand awareness about how work is really done, ask for the problems and get a keen appreciation about improvements. Be humble and help them!


read it in German: click