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wtorek, 7 stycznia 2014

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Technical leader worries: I have too many things to do

Those wonderful days when the only thing you did was writing a code have gone. Now you are a leader. You are doing everything: attending or conducting meetings, removing impediments, mediating between team members and the rest of organisation, reading or writing some kind of reports (and you deceive yourself that spending two hours in excel counts for programming because of some smartly used formulas) and so on, and so on. You are in a hurry all the time and it never ends.

Today I would like you to get familiar with one useful technique.
Before you put a task to your TODO list ask three questions.

Treat those question as something to elaborate about. Those are just reminders. I will explain in short what is going on.

Is me the best person to do the task?
Business world is busy, fast and many things are not well analysed. I remember it for myself that many times I assigned the task to somebody not thinking much about it and that person wasn't the best one to address the subject. Especially if you are a leader ask yourself a question:
Does this task should be done by my team?
Should I personally do this task? 
Many times people in the team are able to do the task so that you may focus on your leader activities (where you are not easily replaceable). If you use pull model (like Kanban) place this task on a team board.

Does it have to be done now?
How many times you have experienced situation where something had to be done till the exact date. And then a few days later after asking: "How about that report?" (supposing the task result was a report) you get in response: "Oh, I didn't have time to took at this".
"Ughhhhhh... So why did I work overtime?" - you think and feel disappointed.
I can tell you why. Because you didn't ensure that it really had to be done till that date (Of course even doing so you will not eliminate such situations entirely.)

You may ask (suppose today is Wednesday):
"I am doing X, Y, Z and I would like to have them done because .... Would it be a problem if I completed this task on Monday?"
Or very similarly (if a task or feature is addressed to whole team):
"We are doing X, Y, Z now and we would like to get them done because ...(explain). Would it be a problem if we started to work on the feature on Monday?"

Does it have to be done it the particular way?
If task definition specifies how task should be done, be sure to check if this is the best way (especially if there is not much time). Make sure that you know the goal (why this task should be done at all and why is should be done this way). If you know the goal you may suggest easier or simpler alternatives.

Encourage your teammates to do the same
This is so good tool that it is worth spreading. Many leaders are little afraid that team members will start to negotiate the tasks and it will be the begining of a rebelion. And you should welcome this with understanding (and I know it is not easy). By practicing this technique people learn to look critically at what happens in the project and you shorten the feedback loop. This is a great way to increase probability of eliminating work that shouldn't be done or simplifying the solutions. This is also good exercise for strengthen trust in your team. Only people being safe (and this is the base for trust) are eager to ask questions like these.

1 komentarze:

Andrzej pisze...

Ok, you've been writing a lot about Technical Leaders. But maybe make a post about what it means.

As I see it, every company has different responsibilities assigned to such a role. So what is a TL according to you? (role definition, responsibilities, how to divide the work between PM, team and TL).