Last week I was giving a presentation to some of our colleagues abroad. The presentation was about our Agile Transformation Journey. The material was heavily focused on the changes that we made to the practices, premises, teams and organization and how they map to Agile and Lean values and mindset that we embrace. This time I wanted to start the presentation with something that makes the developers in the audience to think: what is in it for me.
In the beginning, I asked from the audience:
How many of you can say that ‘I do my best at work place’.
After three seconds of self-reflection, all hands were up.
Next question was:
How many of you think that you can fully utilize your talent, social and technical skills, creativity, passion. You can effectively use the things that you have learned in school, courses and during your career.
I didn’t wait for the hands to go up, because I think there’s no honest ‘yes’ answer to the last question. If you take it literally.
The point here is that in the first question people are often reflecting their performance to the role and to the role description. They evaluate their performance in the context of their organization and processes. Giving these circumstances it is fairly easy to say that you do your best.
In the second question when thinking whether the role, the role description, processes and organization allows you to be the rock star of your career its easy to say no.
Strict role descriptions define responsibilities and goals for individuals. Strict process define those for certain roles and for organizations. I honestly believe that the intention of these was to create minimum frames for people in the organization. But quite often the result is that this minimum becomes the standard for performance.
How this is then different in organization following Agile and Lean values? When role descriptions and process are almost non-existent people can self-organize around the goal of the organization. In this setup its easier for people to utilize the talent and the capability of individuals and teams.
It’s hard for the managers in non-Agile organization to give up the role descriptions and the false security of individual responsibilities. I have good news for you: everyone in the organization do their best. Developers are more interested in the quality of their work results than anyone else can be. They have higher stakes on the architecture than the architect can ever have. They are the ones that are suffering if the maintainability is poor. And at the end everyone is failing if the product is late or its something that the customer does not want.
By widening job titles and letting the role descriptions away we can let the people to do their best for the company. And to be the rock stars of their career.