On Advocacy, Criticism, and Acceptance

In this blog, I talk a lot about process, the best ways to do things, efficiency, industry norms that I think are overrated, and so on. However, beneath all this advocacy and criticism lies something very important: acceptance.

No organization will have every aspect of the process to your liking. Even if you’re the manager who defines processes, there are often company-wide processes that you must adhere to. Every company is riddled with inefficiencies. While it’s nice to fix these inefficiencies, do not become too caught up with it. Have you seen an engineer or manager who constantly brings up the tabs vs spaces issue, yoda conditions, one line if statements, or spacing between characters? Do yourself a favor and avoid such arguments. These are incredibly minor inconsistencies. Your company has more important inefficiencies and even some of these you need to learn to live with. Simply put, do not became wrapped up in making a 100% efficient company exactly to your liking. It won’t happen and it will drive you and your co-workers batty and you’ll eventually develop a poor reputation as a pedant.

Scrum inventor J Sutherland said that most companies run at around 15% efficiency and if you can bump that to 50% efficiency you are doing a great job! These numbers are generally shocking to most who first read it but I think they’re correct, though maybe a bit higher today. From these numbers, don’t ever think to get to 90% efficiency. Your emotions will roil as you combat the bureaucracy and people in your organization, to your own detriment. Do not be complacent and accept everything. Mention what could be better but then accept what is. Do not moan and groan every time you are asked to do something you do not want to do. Mention the worst inefficiencies to your boss, do not be surprised when nothing happens, and live with it.

A key component to all of this is setting an example to your employees and dealing with bad attitudes. Any bad attitude shown by employees who dislike certain processes needs to be addressed. Have you ever encountered such stubborn employees who say things like “If I’m forced to fill out these useless timesheets, I’ll quit”.¬† Address this quickly and help those employees understand the value of acceptance.

Just remember that no company will have processes that perfectly match your liking or your team’s liking. Work on those processes that you truly believe will improve the company, not just pet peeves in coding style. Encourage the corporation to allow groups to have autonomy (one of the three metrics to happiness) which will allow each group to define processes that appeal and work for them. And finally, accept those processes that you cannot change.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *