How to Save the Industry and Get the Buzz Back!

How to Save the Industry and Get the Buzz Back!

[I’m grateful to Antony Denyer for his email suggesting the topic for this post.]

How depressed are you about Agile today, and having to conform to a bunch of prescribed methods (be that Scrum, Kanban or what have you) that you know just plain don’t work?

How even more depressed are you having to pretend to be doing Agile when factors outside your control (for example management monstrosities and obduracy) prevent you from experiencing even the smallest joy of doing Agile as it was conceived and intended, i.e. with no need for pretence?

How depressed are you that nothing new happens in the software development industry any more? Excepting perhaps yet more idiocy and exploitation of the gullible (SAFe, I’m looking at you). PS. Caveat Emptor.

How depressed are you that a wide range of promising ideas are not only ignored by “thought leaders” and management, but often actively denigrated, ridiculed and suppressed?

Enough with the depressing stuff.

Saving the Industry

Much like the idea of saving the planet from climate change (the planet will be just fine, thanks, it’s the species that needs saving, maybe), I don’t particularly believe the industry needs saving. Certainly, customers commissioning software development don’t seem to need any saving. If they did so need, then there might be some demand for same. 

I do see a need for “saving” the people who labour in the software industry. God knows the amount of human potential wasted every day through poor management, poor advice, and the antiquated assumptions and beliefs pertaining in most organisations. Actually though, the only folks that will be doing any “saving” will be the folks themselves. No one has your back. No one in a position to do anything about your problems and frustrations gives a damn about them, or you. Might I suggest y’all organise?

Getting the Buzz Back

As you may know, I propose that Organisational Psychotherapy is the way forward. Personally I get a huge buzz every day through constantly learning about people, groups, communities and what make us tick. I suspect this new direction for the industry is a scary sea-change for most people in the software domain, for whom technology (cool flashing lights and all) has long been the main driver. But who knows? There could be many more (suppressed) “people” people out there than I know of.

– Bob

11 comments
  1. Marco said:

    Happy to learn Antony Denyer is still involved in our industry! I believe it is time to organize a meetup in real life to explore some “new” ideas and see some old friends as well!

  2. After twenty years as a lay trade union official in the UK Civil Service (up to 2010), I get an irresistible feeling of déja vu when I hear testers talking in forums, chatrooms and meetups about workplace issues such as accessibility, occupational health, bullying and management styles, work/life balance, diversity and other matters which we were organising around and campaigning on thirty years ago.

    • Thirty years and no change. In fact, 8000 years of the Domination System and not much change, fundamentally speaking. (And not just testers. :} )

      I’d hate to see the reemergence of “I’m Alright Jack”-style industrial relations. I was thinking more of the organising exemplified by Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. (amongst others).

      • I always considered that the best deals I did in twenty years were those arrived at by mutual consent with local managers. It was usually intervention or “policy” from on high that caused a reversion to a more conflicted model.

        I contend that managements usually got the trade unions they deserved (and sometimes vice versa). If you recollect the Boulting Brothers film, the management in “I’m all right, Jack” were pretty well corrupt and manipulative themselves. I can think of at least one major instance in the West Midlands where life imitated art…

      • “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander” seems a ubiquitous characteristic of relationships?

  3. I have suggested that (independently of union collective bargaining), we need to have some way to share work opportunities at places that are more sane and rational. IE; Those with better work practices, support for people, etc.

    • Might we imagine public ranking of workplaces according to some objective criteria, some day? (See “Memeology” for one way of doing this.) A bit like Net Promoter Score (although flawed in itself).

      • I hate NPS. If your employees and customers are *NOT* gaming it by now I have to ask, “What’s wrong with them?!?”

        I was thinking of something more like a dating site I heard about, run by and for women, named something like “Take my boyfriend, please!” In it, women would describe their ex-boyfriends (already ex- or soon to be ex-) and be honest about the good and bad parts. Like, “Wants to go backpacking and camping all the time.” could be good or bad, depending on what you want.

  4. There always was so much more to trade union work than just collective wage bargaining and the high profile disputes of the 1960s and 1970s. Health and safety legislation in the UK is based around the independence of the trade unions allowing them to train and support workplace representatives who have formal accreditation and legal powers for that role. And in unionised workplaces (and certainly in my own union), local representatives were trained by the union to carry out that support and advisory role.

    As senior representative for a whole Government department (albeit a small one), I also met regularly with my peers to exchange news and information on personnel policy best practice. The outcomes of these meetings were then carried forward by the union at a national level in discussions with central Government. My department was one of the first to allow staff free Internet access at people’s desks. We evolved a policy to manage this process; I took that policy to my peers as an example of best practice, and eventually it was adopted by the Cabinet Office as the model for all other Departments (at least, until 9/11, after which all matters relating to Government Internet use was brought under the wing of the Men in Black – as I always thought of them – from Cheltenham.)

  5. Thanks for sharing. How might we all benefit from your experiences?

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