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Are you assigning your top engineers to projects?

November 5, 2007 by Artem Marchenko

Soldiers in front of Capitol

Some companies are very picky at making sure that all their employees got a project to work on. Especially the top engineers. I've seen quite many environments, where senior guys are the ones who have to be "120% utilized" and who are actually doing the work, while juniors are expected to be floating around doing "something not critical" and being asked to help seniors, whenever those would need an extra hand.

Agile Layoffs

March 17, 2007 by Artem

Agile processes often enter the organization from the grass roots - from the developers appreciating useful practices and insightful low level managers seeking for ways to help their subordinates. However, if things progress well, at some point the top management might buy the idea of delivering incremental software faster, than the competition, and declare "we are going Agile" or even "we are going AGILE". While the top management support is something to appreciate, there is still a number of issues to be aware of, when restructuring mid to large size organizations. One of the most important changes is the potential career ladder restructuring.

Destructive bonuses

February 4, 2007 by Artem Marchenko

Many if not most of software development companies employ some kind of the bonus plan for their developers. Developers or teams get a set of targets to reach and depending on the target fulfillment the bonus is paid. The idea of compensating the extraordinary performance and success is a good one. Unfortunately there two major problems with the bonus plans:

Expected bonus is not a reward

As Joel Spolsky puts it "They [bonus plans]'ve become like tips in restaurants: everyone expects one, so they can no longer be used well to award performance". Most of the good managers I've heard of try to plan the bonus targets so that their subordinates would get about the same amount of money whatever happens.At the time when there is a reasonable lack of programmers everywhere, it is just too dangerous to have an employee that expected the bonus, but didn't get it. The received bonus feels like something expected, while the one that was not received feels like a punishment and most of bosses wouldn't like their employees to feel punished.

Process over the individuals

April 9, 2006 by Artem

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools © agilemanifesto.org

Lately on a Russian programmer forum I've read a story about the usual victory of a process over the individuals.

One software development company had Windows and Unix stations. As a result from time to time the wrong endline characters leaked into the repository and caused the build breaks. There were two ways to overcome the problem:
1. To oblige everybody to check the files before the commit

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