#1 - Why is it difficult to get the best return on investment

Why is it difficult to get great return on your software development investment?

Why is it that software development isn't keeping pace with your business?

You’ve tried to resolve it yourself; you’ve set targets, you’ve encouraged, you’ve cajoled, you’ve been driven half insane with techno-babble – but your tried and tested management techniques aren’t working – if anything they are producing negative effects.

So why is it so difficult?

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Published: Tue, 02 Jul 2019 16:25:33 GMT


Done right, software development can transform a business. it can make it fly.

However, often this simply isn't realised. It doesn't take much looking to find examples of software development projects running late, costing too much or simply never making it across the finish line.

You see example of this in small businesses right the way through to government initiatives.

The biggest barriers I find between success and failure is the culture and mindset at the executive level. Unfortunately too many of today's executives have the wrong approach to software development. That approach then filters through the organisation producing unexpected and dysfunctional results.

And this isn't the executives fault - they are simply following what they believe to be good solid management practices.

Most business managers will recognise “command and control” as normal or traditional management techniques. I know this was the management style I was educated in and I see it in most organisations.

A manager dictates the work to the subordinates then monitors the execution of that work.

Command and control has been an exceptional driving force in productivity during the 20th century. It excels at repeatable actions.

Software Development however is about problem solving ... not repeatable actions. Those problem solving activities, falls into the category of knowledge work. Work whose main capital is knowledge.

Knowledge worker are workers who “think for a living”.

A quote from Wikipedia; “What differentiates knowledge work from other forms of work is its primary task of "non-routine" problem solving that requires a combination of convergent, divergent, and creative thinking”

This means we need to think a little differently when managing and directing work to a knowledge worker.

Peter Drucker (much respected management guru) notes “Workers throughout history could be ‘supervised’. They could be told what to do, how to do it, how fast to do it and so on. Knowledge workers cannot, in effect be supervised”.

By trying to supervise knowledge workers you simply do not get the best results.

Invariably, standard "command and control" techniques will likely demotivate and create dysfunctional behavior in knowledge workers.

A common dysfunction is focus on time (getting the job done) over value (getting the job done right).

The traditional "command and control" techniques may impose a timeline on a software developer which actively encourages them to cut corners.

This happens when management focus is on utilising a 100% of the that individuals time rather than the value of the output.

And this is a subject that I will dig into more in the next podcast.