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Our experience has shown that technology work is different. Many styles of management and leadership are ineffective. Some give the illusion of control, but they fail in the end. When a project is “controlled” in these ways it is actually out of control. Flawed Programme Control Models summarises these issues.
We have formed our own view of the approaches and behaviours that make for effective leadership of complex technology activities. Some of this has come from our own experience and from seeing how our behaviours affected programmes. Some has come from observing other professionals at work. We describe this as a “Directive” approach. The essence of this concept is summarised in The Direct Approach.
As we keep saying technology work is complex. Despite this obvious fact the ways that work is done are often ad hoc, based on individual experience and preferences. Maybe there are templates for documents and a “change procedure”, but little else. People would not run a logistics system like that. You would not design and certify an aircraft engine under such a regime. Partly it is due to the “transitory” nature of the work, but really it is down to the lack of acceptance of the need and to a resistance by “creative” people to anything that smacks of control. Delivery Operating Models explains the needs and the elements that needs to be address. The sheer number of elements listed simply reinforces that fact that leaving things to chance is a poor approach.
Technology delivery work is fast moving and uncertain. Situations are complex, disordered, fluid and suffer friction, apparently random interference that make things harder than they should be. The short handbook, Warfighting also available on Amazon has much to say about how to organise and operate in these types of situations.
How cosmetic is your risk and issues process? How much does it really make a difference when peoples minds are set on other things? In most cases not much. Want to understand how to think about risk in a software delivery contents? The Waltzing with Bears by Tom DeMarco & Timothy Lister is one of the best places to start.
Experience has led us to form a novel concept of risk. This ‘Safe Harbour’ concept provides a pragmatic way of thinking that can help to make software intensive projects more resilient. See The ‘Safe Harbour’ Concept of Risk for more details of this concept.
To succeed people running IT and software projects need to ensure they have Convergence across all of the organisations contributing to or consuming the outputs of their work. Convergence is about aligning the efforts of multiple streams that have a natural tendency to diverge. Differing interests, motivations, perspectives and assumption cause divergence. Divergence is deadly. Accepting the idea of Convergence and that nature, and organisational indecisiveness, pull in the other direction will improve your chances of success.