Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Accountability and Productivity

I have been reading one of my favorite books Slack, and in one of the chapters on schedules, Tom brings up a good point about accountability and productivity. He mentions that

When a schedule is not met, those inclined to pass out blame are quick to
point at the lowest-level workers; they reason that performance is the domain
entirely of those who perform the work. They ask plaintively, "why can't these
guys ever meet their schedules" ? the answer that the schedule might have been
wrong in the first place only befuddles them.

He continues to say

There is such a thing as a bad schedule. A bad schedule is one that sets a date that is subsequently missed. .... If the date is missed, the schedule was wrong. ... The purpose of schedule was planning, not goal-setting. Work that is not performed according to a plan invalidates the plan.

1 comment:

Christopher Avery said...

Good point Ventakesh,

A key phrase in your quote from Slack is "their schedules." I wonder if the schedules really were "theirs" in the first place? If the schedules are imposed then they are easy to dis-own as in "I never agreed to that."

I just witnessed an amazing event a few weeks ago at the headquarters of an agile toolmaker. At the conclusion of a two-day annual planning process involving the 22-person top leadership team, the CEO implored the team to inspect and scale back their scope and commitments for the year and each quarter to ensure they did not over-commit. He said "Because of how agile and interdependent we are internally, it is far worse for us to over-commit and miss a delivery than to under-commit and later discover some found slack."

That's some agile leadership!

I write a lot about the role of personal responsibility in agile. You can find much of it here:

And some free easy listening about personal agility here:

Thanks for your good work.