I’m talking about professionals. Ones who just do their work without any fuss and get along with their lives. Working with them is very uneventful. There are hardly any surprises. They seem to have all things covered, figured out. Its like a great Billiards player. They know which ball to hit and where to stop the cue. There’s no messing around there.
On the contrary, most of our software projects seem to be like a messed up puzzle. Few things hanging here, few hanging there. Gathering all the pieces together at the last minute. Get it in an wardrobe. Close the door of the wardrobe somehow. Get the damn product out the door. Repeat the process for every release. This seems to be an accepted norm.
The first company I used to work for had a delivery manager named Mr. Bali (name changed). He was this ultimate adventure lover. He could convert any normal project to a cliffhanger and then deliver it in crunch situation (mostly well past the delivery dates). He earned a reputation of the go-to man whenever the situation was tense and the management needed a ring-master. And, to be fair, he did a good job at that. After some point, it became a habit for all projects to lead up to this situation and managers/team members playing like superheroes. The whole account became a hub for super heroes. It almost resembled ‘The Avengers’ on every project.
Now our superheroes got into a habit of fire-fighting and would never strive to finish things off at a normal pace. Unfortunately for them, this kind of strategy doesn’t work for long and you’re sure to fail more often than succeed.
But its fun. Its a roller coaster ride for everyone involved. There’s emotion, tragedy, action, comedy.. all the masala that makes a blockbuster.
On the other side, there was this another delivery manager Mr. Semwal. He got into a habit of breaking down things, measuring progress, taking corrective actions well in advance. He’ll seldom get into such situations where he’d have to run around crazy to get stuff done. Most of his projects get done well in time ensuring full control on quality and well being of the team members.
But, of course, he’d never be a hero. He never provided the entertainment which Mr. Bali did.
Most management falter at this. They need to recognize calculated, methodical professionals too as they celebrate the heroic ones. Reward consistency and measured approach over heroic ones. This improves over time and keeps you away from heartaches. There are other ways of providing yourself with such cliffhanger entertainment.