Expert thoughts from our software developers and design leaders.
Since I joined to the company and during the implementation of projects in which I participated, I have conducted a serie of activities for the management of those projects, activities and daily meetings, monthly, retrospectives among others, all this because in our company uses Scrum as a framework for managing our projects. Deepening about Scrum, it woke up in my desire to learn and perform the activities of a ScrumMaster.
Sponsored by our company on March 2 of this year I traveled to Bogota along with two co-workers, Bryan and Jessica, for the ScrumMaster certification course, the course lasted two great days, and while is true that we get to the course with a lot of practical knowledge about the Scrum/Agile world, Kleer (the company who conducted the course) used every possible tool to establish these concepts and secure them in a dynamic and practice way.
That was the most exciting part of the course, and where I was putting my expectations, because during flight to the CSM many times I wondered if it was possible, I mean, to prepare a group of people to perform activities of a ScrumMaster in two days. It was great to notice how with the passing of activities we were gradually increasing most knowledges about Scrum and the role of ScrumMaster and that was gaining sense why those meetings and activities that as company member we have done in each of our projects.
After completing the course Bryan, Jessica and I have been sharing our fresh ideas and experience with our team through presentations, that in order to put in practice what we have learned and also we wanted to get feedback from our own knowledge, at the end we answered some doubts that any of them could probably have.
Our goal as ScrumMaster when resolving these doubts beside finishing with them, it was to improve the self-management of members team that finally ends up guaranteeing better quality and value for our clients as well as the growth of ourselves as a professionals.
Ultimately my participation in the CSM was a great experience, I had the opportunity to interact with people from different professions and countries and provide feedback of knowledge, I met places of the city of Bogota where the course was held during free time and achieve one of the course objectives that it was get the ScrumMaster certification.
Common company organizations figures closed management groups, where the tasks related to maintain and guide companies processes rely on a hand of experienced people, while in some cases this could ‘work’ if we measure this based on short term financial results, this is not a good start to make a happy environment inside the company and in the long term this will lead to very bad results, after all, what is a company without his people ?.
Let me share something interesting:
If a system is to be stable the number of states of its control mechanism must be greater than or equal to the number of states in the system being controlled. – The Law of Requisite Variety (W. Ross Ashby)
Based on this we could initially deduct 2 things.
The first one is that in order to control/direct a team of people, you need a human being, another kind of being wont be able to do it, that because after all, who could understand a human being with all his complexity more than another human?.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking, sometimes even we humans don’t understand other human behaviour, and everyone who has been on management for a while can say it, there are some situations that we could say for sure a computer would not be able to manage because after all are very hard for humans, so hard that sometimes some of us end up believing that these were resolved spontaneously.
But this take us to the second deduction, that is, that 1 human wont ever be as complex as 2, or 3, or N, that because the number of states in the system being controlled will always be greater than the number of states in the controller, or said in other words: 2 persons will always be more complex than one.
So, how to control a development team ? what’s the best strategy to control a team successfully?
Well, it may sound crazy, but 2 persons will always be as complex as 2 persons, if all the team-mates are involved in the management tasks then the system will be stable, that means team will be able to manage itself, and at the end of the journey there will not only be one big smile on the manager, but rather an entire team happy for the results.
After all delegating is the best way of making the team part of the company and not another piece being used only to produce good financial results. Every team member would not be prepared to do every single the team tasks but, is our task as managers to max their qualities in favour of the team results, we could start by assigning small management tasks to the younger team-members and at the end involve them into the more complex tasks.
After all, how do you became a manager ? how did you became a Sr developer ? how did you became an Engineer ?, it was by doing, we were not selected genetically right?.
I deeply believe that successful managers have some special sauce to make a team succeed in each task they take, and one of the things that is for sure inside that special sauce is inclusion, it includes recognition and a bit of challenge, and these are base things to make someone better.
Make your team manage itself, hey, who could do it better ?.
In 2013, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development accepted Colombia as a candidate to become an active member of this privileges countries group. If Colombia accomplishes all the requirements for membership requested by OECD, it would be part of “the best practices club”, where countries with better perspective and better performance in social and economic fields help each other to improve their public politics quality, which means more investment, more employment, more capability.
There had been great progress in some areas along these two years. One of the greatest progress made in Colombia is related with IT investment. With help of ICT ministry and FITI, some programs were developed to help entrepreneurs to create businesses around IT technology, programs to capitalise IT professionals which offer free certifications, free scholarships for MBA and PHB degrees related to IT industry, I+D+I, just to name a few ones.
An info-graphic emitted by ICT ministry for the last four months of 2014 shows how IT technology has improved its use and capability to coverage almost the whole country. Also, statistics from the same source show how GDP had behave in a decade thanks to IT investment.
So things look good for Colombia in IT subject, but there’s a long road to follow and good quality software production has been the need nowadays.
In Colombia software investment had grown up around 43% in the last decade, estimated in USD 6’200’000,000. Today, exists a lot of demands for software production in Colombia, many companies decides to offshore software production because of the lack of companies with good quality software production or because they are too expensive, So they decide to outsource with Indian or Chinese companies with some maturity in software production and maybe because they are cheaper ;).
On the other side, the great news is that this situation is changing, we as local software producers have a big social responsibility on what we do and we’re doing a lot of improvement in quality of software production.
Software Engineering Institute a.k.a SEI, emitted four months ago a report that keeps me motivated and dedicated to get better in this business (and also proud to be a colombian :), yeah I love my country). Colombia got the first place as the country with more software development companies which applies the best practices in software engineering in south america, according to the Capability and Maturity Model Integration a.k.a CMMI. This means Colombia is getting mature about the way it develops software and it’s making it more competitive in the business.
This is a reality, Colombia is developing good quality software applying the best practices according to SEI. I hope the number of software development companies in Colombia with good quality software production keeps increasing as we follow a continuous improvement process, and maybe someday when Colombia becomes an active member of OECD would be prepared to be the reference in software development.
Keep Learning, Keep applying…
Last week we ended our internal, FIFA tournament, we play this tournament every year (2 years now), after all, what are we without the joy?.
Results this year were very succesful, i’m glad to say that we had 8 teams and all the matches were played, which means FIFA on PS4 is gaining traction inside the team, ( huh… ).
More than that, its very good to see how our culture starts to grow with events that may seem to be outside of the range of the technology-mind guys, but, want it or not, are creating a very nice space where we can joke, laugh and build connections outside profesional scope, which after all, are the ones that will persist.
Congratulations to the 2015 FIFA 2015 Podium Bryan, Cris, and Mario.
As technology geeks we feel that we are born with unique super powers that allow us to achieve complex tasks such as writing code and building complex applications - wow!
On the other hand we know (through experience) that to become an expert at something takes time, so why do we still think that we’re born to inherit that unique DNA that makes us experts in all things software development related?
As a startup we are used to switching hats between tasks expeditiously, we’re not a company and culture where you do that one thing you are destined to do, at Wawandco our people grow organically and are capable of diving into most of the work we’re involved in for our clients, in a sense - we’re multi-functional individuals.
In this fast hat-switching world where us startups live, due to the size of our teams, we’ve created a line of differentiation between admin tasks and software development tasks and people who fulfill these tasks, something interesting happened this week.
This week we’ve been at full-capacity on our dev team (yes, I was busy developing too ), and some of our old gold clients needed us to do some html/css tasks, I’m talking about that kind of clients you cannot say NO because its not just another client but a partner (thats common here). We talked with our client and explained the situation, we told them that there was someone on our team that could do that job; to be candid this person had done some light HTML/CSS training in the past but never production ready work, our client agreed to test her and in just a day they got back to me informing me that they wanted her to work full-time on their project.
That absolutely caught my attention, and proved to me that we’re going in the right direction - by showing our teams they can continue to learn and more crucially learn about things that are different from their day-to-day tasks; we completed the task that was assigned to us by our gold partner, and we continue fostering great relations with them, other than that I think we’ve learned something that is not to underestimate the people in our teams, after all we’ve done a great job hiring great people who are smart and want to grow.
Our engineering teams in the company are happy and have learned a lesson about becoming experts - the lesson is that everyone with training and the proper dedication can become expert, is just about striving for perfection every step of the way!