Technical Build versus Buy decisions should be straightforward, but we need development collaboration and motivation to get these right. What emotional barriers do we hit, and how do we address them? And how do we become better students of organizational behavior?
Stone soup is a folk tale about motivation and cooperation. It applies directly to our work as product managers, since we don’t have the authority to force cooperation or alignment. We have to provide leadership, motivation, and clarity of goals.
Motivating our development teams may be as important for product managers as writing good requirements. A first step is understanding what matters to devs, such as knowing that real users run/appreciate our products.
I’ve had the great pleasure of reading an early copy of “Managing the Unmanageable: Rules, Tools and Insights for Managing Software People and Teams.” Co-author Ron Lichty is a veteran Silicon Valley VP of Engineering, having done important work at Apple, Berkeley Systems, Schwab and Razorfish. I know Ron from his SVForum leadership and his “VPE of Fix-It” consulting. The book starts with the sociology and psychology of programmers, and why they are fundamentally hard to manage. Rather than caricature, it sorts programmers along many dimensions (client/server/database/web; architects/systems programmers/app builders; cowboys/farmers/heroes/introverts/cynics/jerks) to uncover team dynamics and motivational principles. Ron (and co-author Mickey Mantle) go to some length to separate programming from more manageable engineering disciplines: Programming as a serious profession…