Friday, 9 May 2014


When I watch my kids play (they're both boys), the youngest is always trying to get his big brother to play to his games (jedi versus with, avengers versus justice league, etc.). you should see his happy face when his brother plays along - and his disappointment when the older boy shrugs him away. Also, occasionally, the older brother will try to teach his younger brother something, and there again, there's a happy grin when the smaller boy is interested and listens, and a definite sulk when the younger kid ignores him.

These, I believe are fundamental motivations. The "yes!" drive to tell others what to do and have them follow. The deeper, more mature pleasure, of watching people grow in skill, autonomy, and progressively have ideas you've never thought about. My elder boy is now learning to program simple computer games on his own - it's kid's stuff, but still a media that is totally beyond me, and well, wow!

In today's complex environment, we now how well the "I'm the decider! [Don Rumsfeld is doing a fine job]"approach works. We also realize that a "I'm a developer" posture is harder and not so well codified. It delivers greater performance because a knowledge economy rests on knowledge workers, but we need to acknowledge we have no way to respond to people who become leaders for the kick they get out of telling others what to do - nor for the fact that many employees actually prefer being told what to do in no uncertain terms, even if it's to ignore it or bitch about it (or worse, interpret it perversely).

We understand better what developing people means:

  1. creating a visual environment that aligns their job with value for customers
  2. deepening technical skills by problem solving
  3. strengthening collaborative skills by improvement efforts
  4. developing a self reflexive quality by observing, discussing and challenging aims and results
But this remains a very minority know-how. In order to ask for managers to behave other than "I'm the decider" what can we do to grow further the body of knowledge that supports the intent to be a developer?

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