Technical Leader

Motherly Embrace of Process

Today I was reading an article by Dave Nicolette and the following caught my eye: “Many people really, really want to curl up in the motherly embrace of Process”. I feel that typically most people do want this and therein lies the problem.

I wouldn’t want to believe this either, but I have been reading Influence by Robert B. Cialdini and in Chapter 6 he talks about “Authority - Directed Deference”. In this Dr. Cialdini references multiple studies done where people basically blindly follow what an established authority figure does or says. These are as simple as more people follow, what seems to be, an established business man across a street and progress up to nurses doing exactly what they think the doctor said (like putting ear drops into a patients R ear; the nurse interrupts this as rear and actually performs the administration of the medicine).

The team I have been working with since the beginning of the year has recently undergone a dramatic change in the developers on the team. There is currently only two other Valtech consultants along with myself, the others are employees of our client. On occasion management has told us exactly what we must do. One specific instance was a ‘mandate’ that we do not check in code against a single project for four days. I hope you understand how absurd this is. There were a few people who complied immediately, it seems like they felt it was the only way to deal with the situation. A few of my coworkers gently pointed out how bad of an idea it was, and a solution was agreed upon which helped out multiple teams.

It seems to me that most people will agree with ‘authority’ and it doesn’t really matter if this authority figure is real or make believe. People will continue to believe in the ‘process’ as this is the authority on the subject matter and must not be questioned (in their frame of mind). We who still believe in Agile Development will still have an up hill battle on our hands to coax people into believing there is a separate way to development software.