I like math and science and that’s why I studied Computer Engineering in school and ended up getting into the software engineering field. Numbers were the major part of my education. However, when it comes to making teams more successful, metrics and numbers are not everything.
They are ok as long as they are NOT in the way of team’s work. The numbers and metrics themselves are good, but the problem is in methods how those numbers/metrics are attained. As soon as you get into that territory of putting more emphasis on tools and metrics over working software and people, you are putting a dent into the team’s culture and their productivity. We are leaders in our companies and we don’t get paid for applying metrics that might have worked for somebody else. We are better than that. If it worked for somebody else, it does not mean that it will work for me. You have to do a temperature read in your company and you need to understand the culture on the floor, and most importantly you have be on the floor and live it for yourself as a leader. That’s when you will feel what works and what does not.
I talk a lot about the “feel” and “passion” in software engineering. If I could give you the formula for the “feel”, than I could also be able to give you a scientific explanation for what made successful leaders successful. If that were the case, we would not have leaders hosting seminars and we would not have speakers giving motivational speeches; everything could’ve been calculated through mathematical formulas. We know that’s not the case.
All you can do is try to get closer to understanding what that “feel” is and have others attain it by show-casing it through examples. The “feel” is something that comes with experience and we know it is tough to convey your experience.
I have worked on many high-profile projects that were carefully monitored by the senior leadership teams. Besides having a strong technical team on the floor, what makes these type of projects successful is the good relationship that the project manager and the tech lead of the project build. They compliment each other and the tech lead is the one that provides you that overall “feel” about the project status, and what needs to be done to keep correcting the direction of the ship in the open waters of the oceans. So the metrics can be used by managers to some degree, but ultimately you hire great tech leads to steer the ship at the technical level and these tech leads are closest to engineers on the floor, and that’s why they have the power to build a great culture in the company. With power comes responsibility.
In conclusion, please step back and think about what makes projects successful. Yes, you can use metrics, but be very careful on how you attain these metrics. Ultimately we know that the success of those projects is directly dependent on the authenticity of certain individuals who make things happen. It is about all the intangibles that make it happen and you can’t put a number to intangibles.
Thank you for reading this article.