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  1. #1
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    What ONE thing should the CIO understand about managing/motivating developers?

    I'm writing another article in my "Getting Clueful" series at CIO.com, in which I ask practitioners to share their recommendations to the boss. Earlier articles have included Getting Clueful: Seven Things the CIO Should Know About Telecommuting, Seven Things CIOs Should Know About Agile Development, Five Things You Should Know About Fighting Spam... and more.

    This time, I'm tackling the relationship between IT Management and developers (in which I include documentation, testing, and anything else related to getting the application's bits in the proper configuration).

    The question is simple --

    If you could get your CIO (or IT manager) to understand one thing, just one THING, about managing and motivating developers, what would it be?

    And --

    Why did you pick THAT?

    I intentionally leave this wide open so that you can remark on anything that gets you passionate.

    I realize you probably have more than one thing on your list. But by insisting that you give me just one answer, I can prioritize the key elements. Then I can compile the responses (as I did in those previous articles) and maybe, just maybe, bring an additional ohm of enlightenment to a few more corporate big cheeses. Perhaps it will be yours.

    To include your response in the article, I need your name, title, and company (and perhaps a short description of the company if it isn't obvious, such as "a software consulting firm" or "manufacturer of plastic boxes"). Also, I'm collecting input until the middle of next week; after that, I'll need to hunker down and compile/write.

    While there's probably value in a public discussion (and I'll be sure to check back), it's also okay to contact me privately via pm.

    Esther Schindler
    senior online editor, CIO.com
    http://advice.cio.com/blogs/youre_the_boss

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    If you could get your CIO (or IT manager) to understand one thing, just one THING, about managing and motivating developers, what would it be?
    money.

    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    Why did you pick THAT?
    chicks dig it.
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

  3. #3
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    Huh.
    Just read your article about agile development. It looks like you only solicited comments from people who promote agile development.
    Not very well balanced.
    Our last "agile" project was a train-wreck, which is a pretty good analogy since train wrecks appear to follow most agile methodologies.
    If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.

    blindman
    www.chess.com: "sqlblindman"
    www.LobsterShot.blogspot.com

  4. #4
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    tangent: Agile

    Quote Originally Posted by blindman
    Huh.
    Just read your article about agile development. It looks like you only solicited comments from people who promote agile development.
    Not very well balanced.
    Our last "agile" project was a train-wreck, which is a pretty good analogy since train wrecks appear to follow most agile methodologies.
    Well I did ask for input primarily in Agile groups, since those people would be certain to have an opinion. But I believe I also posted in some general groups, too. And all I could report, on something like that, is what people tell me.

  5. #5
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    Okay, BESIDES money.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrasymachus
    money.

    chicks dig it.
    Money might get you to take a job. It might motivate you to stay. Though I'm enough of a hippie to imagine that there's more to it than that.

    So let's take the other angle: what do you wish the CIO understood about managing developers?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    Money might get you to take a job. It might motivate you to stay. Though I'm enough of a hippie to imagine that there's more to it than that.
    I was a street punker before MTV killed punk rock. As far as motivation goes, if I am not getting paid, I am not getting out of bed.

    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    So let's take the other angle: what do you wish the CIO understood about managing developers?
    Management style? I work best with people who give me problems to solve and do not interfere with how I go about solving their problems.

    Agile development? My boss claims to be a practitioner, but I have no idea what this means outside of my experience at the current shop. From what I can figure, it is just the absence of process and structure and the complete destruction of the traditional SDLC. Which is fine by me because I am still an anarchist at heart.
    “If one brings so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Earnest Hemingway, A Farewell To Arms.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    I'm writing another article in my "Getting Clueful" series at CIO.com, in which I ask practitioners to share their recommendations to the boss.
    yes, i remember, i'm in your story Getting Clueful: Nine Things CIOs Should Know About Computer Consulting and Contracting


    If you could get your CIO (or IT manager) to understand one thing, just one THING, about managing and motivating developers, what would it be?

    they are human beings and should be treated with the same basic respect that everyone needs

    this means they expect their management (i.e. the layer in between them and you, the CIO) to take care of all the bullshit, corporate crap, useless meetings, paperwork, and other time sinks

    that's the management part -- that layer in between you and them, that's where all the "leverage" needs to be applied

    the motivation part comes naturally -- developers need to be allowed to develop, because that's what they love to do

    Why did you pick THAT?

    because i was a developer for 30 years, and i know that all motivation comes from within
    rudy.ca | @rudydotca
    Buy my SitePoint book: Simply SQL

  8. #8
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    I want my IT manager to understand that I care about the quality of my work. I comment my code, with my name, and thus "sign" every script or procedure I write. Nothing frustrates me more than having to do a shoddy job or compromise quality because of time constraints, or because it does not fit in with "agile" methodologies, or because some ORM tool or developer utility (nhibernate, Visual Studio Database Professional) is not compatible with good design.
    If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.

    blindman
    www.chess.com: "sqlblindman"
    www.LobsterShot.blogspot.com

  9. #9
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    Quality over quantity.

    Pride.
    George
    Home | Blog

  10. #10
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    Good IT people are a lot like cats, which makes managing good IT people a lot like herding cats... If you treat them well, offer the occasional special treat, and displine them fairly, it can be done and done well. If you miss a point or two now and then, they'll adjust. If you miss any of these points consistently for too long, the really good ones will start to wander off in search of better opportunities.

    Corollaries follow this analogy in droves.

    Micromanaging a cat is pointless, it nets you and the cat nothing but frustration. Make sure that the cat understands what you want, and if you've done a halfway good job of handling the cat, it will consistently surprise you by doing a better job than you can imagine, and often in ways that you would never have thought of and couldn't explain if you had thought of them!

    Trying to "understand" a cat is highly educational, but rarely profitable. Cats do what cats do. Good cats do cat things fast or well or cheap (pick one or maybe two of the three). If you pay too much attention to the cat, you'll probably learn something, but not the things you need to know and the things that you ought to be doing will be left undone.

    It is a bad idea to either over or under feed a cat. Overfed, they get lazy. Underfed, they'll do things you don't want them doing. Find the appropriate level for each cat. Always leave room for the occasional treat (some earned, and now and then one "just because").

    Do not abuse the cats. They'll do things to get even that you'll never think of before you put the shoe on, then smirk as you try to decide whether to walk through the house with a shoe full of stuff, or to pull your foot out of the stuff and leave "interesting" footprints all the way to your sock drawer. You won't live long enough to figure out which cat did it, either.

    Cats learn a lot by playing. Always try to leave them time to play. The exercise is good, the team building is good, and you often end up with better behaved cats.

    The one thing that I'd like CIOs to know is that IT people are like cats in many ways!

    -PatP

  11. #11
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    I think the most important point for CIOs to consider is when....
    ....ack....
    ....aaaaack....
    ....ackechechhechh....
    ....huck....glorp...
    Sorry. Coughed up a fur ball. I gotta clean this up before the boss sees it.
    If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.

    blindman
    www.chess.com: "sqlblindman"
    www.LobsterShot.blogspot.com

  12. #12
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    Best IT-cat metaphor, ever!
    George
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pat Phelan
    The one thing that I'd like CIOs to know is that IT people are like cats in many ways!
    Ah, obviously another person who is owned by a cat. (I am the property of Mithril, a shaded-silver persian, and Meriwether, a Selkirk Rex.)

    Do you think that developers are similar to cats in all ways? Other, perhaps, than the need for 20 hours of sleep a day (the minimum for a persian... but when she's awake, she wants attention now!)?

    "Some people say that cats are sneaky, evil, and cruel.
    True, and they have many other fine qualities as well."
    - Missy Dizick

    "Cats seem to go on the principle that it never does any
    harm to ask for what you want."
    - Joseph Wood Krutch

    "Dogs come when they're called; cats take a message
    and get back to you later."
    - Mary Bly
    --Esther

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by estherschindler
    I am the property of Mithril, a shaded-silver persian, and Meriwether, a Selkirk Rex.
    That one sentence contains pretty much everything we need to know about you.
    If it's not practically useful, then it's practically useless.

    blindman
    www.chess.com: "sqlblindman"
    www.LobsterShot.blogspot.com

  15. #15
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    Actually, that's the major difference between developers and cats.

    Developers can survive on around 5 hours sleep on a good night...
    George
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