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Management Style in SPI Projects

Recently we had a SPI Conference in Bucharest, Romania.

The 3rd Central and Eastern Europe Conference for Software Process Improvement (CEE-SPI) has been quite a success as participants were more than eager to share ideas. One hot debate has been on the management style in SPI projects.
Democracy versus Autocracy. Different opinions, most of them in favor of democracy.

Let’s take a closer look at the definitions.

Autocracy
government in which one person has uncontrolled or unlimited authority over others; the government or power of an absolute monarch.

Democracy
government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Autocracy in SPI Projects? Mmm, no way. You’re going to lose them, for sure.
Democracy? Maybe, but with a flavor of autocracy, we’d say.

When defining processes, democracy is a “must” in a software company, at least. We wouldn’t know of other type of companies. Everybody in the team, including juniors must have a chance to express an opinion.
A collaborative platform with a forum to debate processes are essential.

Why? We say: software development is still more “art”than “engineering”. Software people are quite a special breed of artists. Or, if you prefer,  as Mr Radouane Oudrhiri has told us at the Bucharest SPI Conference:
“Software engineering is a particular engineering discipline where the work is mostly on models and rarely on real world objects. All deliverables from requirements, to architecture, to design are just models, including the final product itself (i.e. Software or an Information System); it is a representation of a real world situation. The quality of the final product lies in the modelling power and techniques used to express the problem.”

So, ok for democracy.
However, if at one point, debates are too hot or there’s a”never ending song of love” playing, the Company’s Process Group must draw the line, choose a solution and be satisfied with processes not so perfect.
Once adopted and approved by the Top management, democracy is out and everybody should conform. Software Development is about creating products which must conform to the product requirements and this means a lot of discipline.

Of course, there is still room for improvement and any opinion should be welcome.
Periodically processes should be reviewed by the team a.s.o.

Emilia and Andreea

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