RIPS — An Ode to Middle Management

One of the fundamental principles in Software development is the KISS principle — Keep It Simple Stupid. Self explanatory and clear. Don’t over complicate things. Fin.

However, in the last few years, with the advent of AWS and Cloud, among others, things have become complicated #ItsComplicated. Things that don’t work now will work in 1 month. You just have to partner with AWS or scour the marketplace for freeware. Teams can now plan releases based on potential enhancements in the pipeline that’s not even controlled or developed within the company.

Glue!!! Spark!!! Presto!!! Redshift Connector!!!
Remember we had AWS bandwidth issues last Sprint cycle? well now we have <insert new technology name> #NoIssueNow

Amazing time! Exciting time! Owning Products! Incremental Builds! Vision and Ideation! WOW!!

Everyone is empowered, yet, we have missing deadlines. Hmmm.

Maybe it’s time to update or retire KISS. I propose RIPS. Yes, doesn’t have the same familiarity to it, but has a zing to it. So bear with me…

Rely In People Stupid. RIPS.

It’s always been the people. It’s the people that drive innovation, drive technology to scale, drive ideas to fruition. That’s where we in Technology have regressed. That’s where this article comes in.

My favorite Netflix series these days is the Master Of None (do yourself a favor and binge watch it). Apt title for this current world, no? Everyone can and should do everything. Self-contained teams. Co-located Teams. Fail Fast, fail forward. All great ideas. Middle Management is going the way of the DODO. No, not a new freeware app to manage resources. The dead bird.

#History

Along with it relationship building is dying. #SquadGoals

Let me tell you a story… Years ago, in a job far far away… one of my scrum teams was doing an after-work “low-risk” software release, and it was tagged into a maintenance window.

So nothing to worry, amirite?? (said no one)

I was subbing for my Scrum Master and the plan had us going home by 8:30 pm. Long story short and with Murphy’s law in play, it was 1 am and everyone was fed up, exhausted, helpless and hungry. Not to mention the status call every 30 min with Leadership. #NotHelping

#StatusCallsWithVPs

Whether it was for my own personal sanity, fear of personal safety or just plain dumb luck, I had a literal light bulb go off and ordered some Shawarma for the team. No, I didn’t. I wish. That would be such Iron Man Badass-ery!!! #momentlost. But I did get some Pizza and pulled an executive order out of my derriere for everyone to stop what they were doing and congregate in the break room, and definitely not in the conference room — which now smelled of cheetos, popcorn, candy and dew — to be really kind.

There were rules though. No talk about work. No talk about the issue. Acceptable topics were pizza, beer and pizza with beer. The first 10 minutes were awful. Just dead air. It was as if there was a big ugly dark cloud. The team sat together based on their roles (think high school, and I was Tina Fey from Mean Girls).

I gingerly brought up the most important thing on my mind — my daughter’s upcoming 3rd Grade SOL test, for which I was particularly woefully unprepared for, and wasn’t sure how to prepare my kid for. The room thawed. Clouds dispersed. Soon people were sharing, giving advice, making fun of single people who were trying to give advice, listening intently to millennials on how their parents prepared them (like a what not to do scenario LOL). We built relationships then and there.

Eventually, we went back to work. Solved the issue at hand. Implemented the solution… and no one remembers what it is. But I still get a “How’s your kid doing?” or “Show me a picture of her now” or “remember the time we discussed about your kiddo? That was great!”. I also knew that if I ever need to discuss something or need a reference or even to shoot the breeze these people will come forward. Because…

RIPS — Rely in People Stupid.

It’s not the technology, it’s not the process, it’s the people. It’s always been. It always will be. People we choose to work with. Day in and day out.

And maybe during all the interchangeable battles and vanquishing of enemies, we can have a call for the Avengers to assemble… for Shawarma… or Pizza!!!

Avengers Assemble… for Shawarma or Pizza!