Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Get software done: Letting programmers take ownership of their project.

It's human nature to feel proud or have some sense of ownership of something that you have created and this is certainly true in the computing world where programmers will feel a sense of pride and ownership about some code that they've designed, coding that they've implemented and deployed.

It's important for Managers to be aware of this and let the right people do the right job and at the right time.

In other words, the Managers may have some form of technical knowledge but this almost certainly won't be as good as, or certainly respected, by the programmers themselves.

So my suggestion is; Managers pose the topic or the problem in question and allow the programmers to "own" the problem space, to devise the solutions and then be responsible for them.

In converse the wrong way to do it, is for the Manager to make some "pseudo implementation" with limited technical skills, which are then followed through by the programmers who will feel that this solution is possibly not the best and they certainly won't take ownership of it, by virtue of the fact - that it came from somebody else.

Then what happens is, once the system is in place, if there are any problems with it there are 2 possible scenarios:

Case A:  Where the programmers have designed it themselves, they are responsible for it, and they will feel a necessity and with an impetus to fix it.   If anything goes wrong [there is no one else to blame] and they will find solutions to the problem.

It is easy for the manager to enforce this, as he has given the programmers freedom to design their own solution - all that is required is to apply pressure.  Most often the programmers will feel such a sense of duty very little pressure will be required.

Case B: Where they've been told how to do it. The programming team will be blaming the Manager for any problems. There will be the classic excuses...

"We knew this wasn’t going to work, this is how we've been told to do it" and there is no sense of ownership and no impetus to fix any problems, which inevitably arise.

This is why I'd suggest that programmers are simply posed with the problems faced and allowed to make their own decisions.

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