That’s why investigations are so important, to drill down and to connect those dots and to get the facts. What we have is a lot of smoke that causes us to want to know more about what has happened.
Now that we understand the primary objective of managing Engineers, let’s understand a little about the insides of the Development Team. I picture this by relating it to the Customer Membrane in this post and breaking out the three main elements of the Development Team. This looks something like:
The three main building blocks of the Product Development team are:
- Tools – there are a variety of tools used in the Development process, including code editors (what we Engineering-types usually call an IDE), requirements management systems, testing tools, databases, third-party frameworks, etc. Each of these contributes (we hope) to the efficiency of the Development process.
- People – nothing happens in Engineering without Engineers. The notion that people are our most important resource is a clichéd one, but it is never truer than with an Engineering team. That will be the focus of the next few articles.
- Process – to make the Tools and People work together optimally, some form of process is required. The key here, as we will delve into later, is right-sizing the amount of process. Too much process and everything grinds to a halt; too little and it’s like the Wild West.
The People box is larger for the (hopefully obvious) reason that People are far more important than the other two. If you doubt this, imagine that we have perfect processes and tools, but very low-quality Engineers. No tool nor process will help these Engineers be better. Now let’s imagine that we have high-caliber Engineers but the worst tools and processes . I can tell you from personal experience that two things that will happen: 1) the Engineers will figure out a way to get the project done despite the poor quality or lack of tools and process, and 2) good Engineers will add appropriate tools and processes as they go so that eventually you have great people, processes and tools.
What this reminds us is that the most important thing is the people. So the next few articles will talk about finding, nurturing and keeping great people.
This post is based on or excerpted from the upcoming book “De-Engineering the Corporation” by Darryl Ricker
 Notice that I didn’t say “no tools or processes”. Existent, but lousy, processes and tools are usually worse than having none.