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Importance Of Opinion

Regardless of whether a project is managed as an agile or traditional endeavor, it is well known that the execution team learns and acquires new knowledge as the project lurches forward. It is also well known that individual team members learn and formulate opinions that may be at odds with each other.

In spite of the “we’re all (equal)” scrum mantra, some individual opinions will always be “more important” than others in a hierarchy… because that’s what a social hierarchy does (POSIWID). The taller the hierarchy, the larger the gap of importance between opinions. And the larger the gap of importance between opinions, the lesser the chance that a diverse subset of newly acquired knowledge will be applied to future project activities.

The figure below shows two concepts of “Importance Of Opinion“. On the left, we have the Scrum ideal – we’re all one and all opinions carry the same weight. On the right, we have the reality. The opinions within the pyramid of elite titles strongly influence/skew/suppress the PO’s opinions, the PO does the same to the SM, and the SM does the same to the group of DEVs. Even within the so-called flat structure of the DEVs, all opinions are not created equal.

Theory And Reality

Categories: management Tags: , , ,
  1. April 18, 2014 at 9:24 am

    It’s funny, there seems to be a lot of observations coming out that the main difference between holacracy/#NoManagers and traditional hierarchies is whether the hierarchy is official/explicit or unofficial/implicit.

    • April 18, 2014 at 12:17 pm

      I think that whenever one assembles a group of people together for a purpose, at some minimum number (perhaps 2?), a hierarchy automagically appears. 🙂

  2. Dave
    April 18, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    The graph needs another dimension for the right-hand side- geometric-rate decrease of validity/accuracy of opinion as the level increases… unless that hierarchy is magically populated with ‘those who rose’ vs the usual MBA-without-experience types, or perhaps worse, senior hardware engineers that rise up and become software group managers.

    • April 18, 2014 at 12:21 pm

      LOL. If you haven’t done it already, I think you should start a blog Dave. I’d read it.:)

      If your org has a HW guy managing a group of SW engineers, maybe it’s time to start looking elsewhere?

      • Dave
        April 18, 2014 at 1:50 pm

        That sin was committed elsewhere/elsewhen, watched a halfway decent HW guy/mgr wreck a SW dept, wasn’t pretty. Didn’t slow his rise, though, as SW guys are of course reputed to be tough to manage and make productive, so it was seen as their failure, not his.

      • Dave
        April 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        I’m more the pithy-response guy than a blogging type. I’ve thought a ‘swear word of the day’ blog might be nice, though.

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