Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Limits of Self-Organization

I ran across this about a month ago, and it struck a nerve.

Now, as my previous entries will show, I'm not a big fan of typical corporate management, with the political games, favoritism, bad decision-making, etc. But I will step up to defend management in a corporation as being the only ones capable of doing a necessary job - keeping focus on the corporate target.

The post I read laments that at a conference, self-organization was a virtue, while it seems lacking in the company he works at. But there is a key difference - the corporation has a goal that is not defined by the participants, and management is the one group that can keep development from mistaking the intent of that goal.

Sometimes the corporate goal is just plain boring - and the developers, as we are wont to do, will want to add something to make things interesting, which will introduce risk.

Now, the Extreme Programming mavens will leap to claim that the developers will not add features that are not covered by a user story. True enough, but a department that is using XP will also have better communications - not a typical corporation.

So it seems a little odd to blame the developers for lacking initiative without blaming the corporate management for making them need more info.

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