Friday, July 07, 2006

Management geek

My project involves integrating the work of some 3 teams here ... and problem with tech guys here is that no single person understands all aspects of the project. Each of mentors is upto his neck in own work, but when it comes to thinking about the entire project, they find it difficult to communicate. My teammates, the tech interns are pretty confused about it. Sometimes, the advice given by different mentors are mutually contradictory. But, for few notable exceptions (like my team-lead in Netscaler, Josephine), people I have come across are so involved in their own work that they tend to ignore the things happening in their own company. That's sad.

Anyway, my primary work here is to bring business insights to the project (and not project management). And that requires looking at things from different perspectives, from customer view point, from strategic view point, and finally, from a realistic view point. That meant I need to get the big picture right, and also understand the depths - to see if our project is aligned to the business goals. It was a struggle to get the big picture, because there are more tech guys here than biz guys. So, each of the tech mentors had their own version of why we are doing the project and that kept me confused for nearly a month. But, by then, I had dived into the depths and so was solid in understanding the project, and hence could draw my own conclusions, and most of them were proved right.

So, it has turned out that only I understand all the aspects of the project - the biz part and the tech part. Even in the tech part, we have the C++ and the Java components, and here again, only I understand both aspects (even mentors don't). Whether or not I like it, it has become necessary for me to become the sole pointman for the project, including for the tech aspects. Initially, I used to be a little schizophrenic, saying, "from business aspect, this is what you should do" and "from project mgmt aspect, this is what you should do" ... then, I became whole, and stopped looking each perspective separately. I unified my viewpoints, and when I suggested something, it was only after I had considered all viewpoints.

When I joined my MBA, one the reasons I'd given to my boss, was that I didn't like attention to details that programming involved, because I was a big picture person. I stand corrected: I've discovered that I'm good at integrating the big picture and the details, and consider both at the same time. Why is this important ? In my opinion, true innovation happens because of this. I've already suggested a couple of innovations regarding my project ... That is why it feels so special. In hindsight, I must admit that none of the people involved (product managers, project managers, sponsors, architects, mentors, leads or tech interns) in this project, who ought to have done that, couldn't. I'm positive that they'd have done a far better job, if only they started thinking from different angles. And I don't think this is unique to our project. That is why it feels so depressing.


At Friday, 14 July, 2006 at 9:53:00 AM IST, Blogger Aravindan said...

So u r thro with the placements..:)

At Friday, 14 July, 2006 at 6:35:00 PM IST, Blogger Sridhar Narasimhan said...

nopes ... not at all - i'm still not sure what i want :(

At Sunday, 23 July, 2006 at 9:36:00 PM IST, Blogger Anomalizer said...

Personally, I find it more of a willingness problem on part of the "tech leaders". In the past few weeks, we were in a situation wherein a much needed piece was in the process of being built by a "platform" group. They had sold the promise of their porduct doing a myriad wonderful things. The only problem was that it was vapourware at that point. Their first release was scheduled to coincide with when our product that would use it needed to hit GA. I tried telling the engg org that we should abandon the plans of using this component in question and develop our own with only the features we need. Most of engg org put up resistance saying that we should not reinvent the wheel, let alone knowingly, this is against basic software engg principles etc etc. To top it off, there were more arguments on the lines of the organization developing someting and we not wanting to use it as a bad thing etc etc.

It took me 2 months to convince them about simple things like we are a business and we need to get something out in time to stay profitable; if that means not playing along with organizational values or violating software engg principles, so be it. Unless we complete stuff if time, we will not have money to survive. Somehow, in the world of software engg, that concept does not get through people's head easily.


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