It’s not about you, it’s about the project

One of the benefits of working with consulting companies is that you get to see lots of other development teams in action. This leads to some really positive experiences, but also some very negative experiences. Some of the positive experiences come from increasing the maturity of the development teams so they consider new possibilities when working.
One of the most common behaviours that I see from customer developers is the “I can’t do that because it takes longer to do my work”. From seeing this in action, I know immediately that they’ve had bullying and inappropriate team management in the past that has not understood the slightest thing about team success. This is generally a reaction to have tasks assigned as though each developer is a silo (the front end guy, the database guy, the framework gal) and then each person is tracked individually “have you finished your work yet.
As a consequence, they have been hammered because they didn’t get their work done, and there’s an immediate reaction to not doing their work and helping somebody else. It’s a counter-productive situation and one that needs to be addressed.
This behaviour is quite often evidenced by individuals :
    – not writing or running acceptance tests, because it takes too long
    – not writing or running unit tests, because it takes too long
    – not integrating changes frequently, because it takes too long
    – not wanting to spend time performing refactoring or restructuring tasks that will help others.
    – not wanting to wander over and spend 10 minutes helping somebody else
Now, just for a moment, imagine that it doesn’t matter how much of your work you get done, if the project isn’t completed. Isn’t it a lot more sensible to focus on getting the project completed, and all the work for the team done on time.
Of course, there needs to be balance, as failing to achieve any of your tasks may also put the project under jeopardy. As with most things in life, there is no silver bullet, and thinking is an important part of daily life (evidence to the contrary not withstanding).
The team lives or dies by the success of the team, not by the individual success. So, it’s incumbent on developers to understand their goals are the success of the project, and it’s vital that the team leaders, the project managers also understand that and reward team players.


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