In times of strife within companies, I’m often asked to mediate between teams of adults who cant seem to agree a middle ground on project delivery. People in large organisations always seem surprised when I vary the answer depending on the stage of the project, rather than deliverable specifics.
I try and remind them of Star Trek…
The Star Trek management divide
Kirk: Mr. Scott, How long until [some engineering problem] is fixed? Scotty: 3 weeks captain. Kirk: I need it in 4 minutes Scotty: I just cannae do it captain Kirk: I need it Mr.Scott Scott: Oh you need it? let me just flick this switch
The Management Perspective
We have many generation of managers who have been brought up to believe that:
- Management is always right
- Authority is more important than Expertise
- Requirement delivery is always the most important KPI
- Any issue can be overcome; regardless of how large the issue or how small the timeframe.
Short Term: Listen to Scotty, ignore Kirk
The Star Trek Engineering Divide
Kirk: Mr. Scott, How long until [some engineering problem] is fixed? Scotty: 3 weeks captain. Kirk: What's the hold up Mr. Scott? Scotty: [some complicated issue involving multiple dependancies] Kirk: Couldn't we just [simple process]? Scott: Well I suppose I could Captain…
The Engineering Perspective
We have many generation of engineers who have been brought up to believe that:
- Management is clueless
- Expertise is more important than Authority
- Requirement deliver is always the most important KPI
- It’s better to solve an issue in the right way, regardless of how much time it takes.
Long Term: Listen to Kirk, ignore Scotty
which lead to hitting his head on changes made by others.
Oh, and keep a special eye out for these two…
The one that relies on logic
The one that questions everything
You need to ensure your team has the right balance of Kirk’s and Scotty’s! Too many engineers, and you’ll solve the problems they want to solve. Too many managers, and you’ll solve the exact problems your stakeholders perceived, regardless of where the real issues and requirements stemmed from.