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Pawel Brodzinski on Software Project Management

Team Management: Find Your Way

As you probably know, my view on management is rather classic – nothing very far from whatever you can find in a respected canon. I’m against micromanagement, but I try to care about details which are important for people. I try hard to be honest with the team and praise them when they deserved. I believe good performance reviews are important. Just old-school, boring management techniques.

I believe that’s the way the whole management thing should be done. However it fascinates me every time I read about Bill Gates’ style of management or One Google Management Way.

Bill, the builder of the greatest company in nineties was considered as bully and the one above isn’t the only example. OK, you can find a lot of bullies in high management around, but somehow many people in Microsoft saw in there a way to improve people’s performance. Everyone had to be superbly prepared, ready to discuss every detail of their opinions and able to resist pressure. Bill’s charisma was essential in building company’s power and his attitude was an integral part of it. You can say it’s weird and it doesn’t work anywhere else, but with Microsoft results speak for themselves.

When you take current decade and look for its symbol you probably see Google. And you see another strange approach to management. More than 50 people in teams, when 7 people are considered as the optimal group to manage. Famous 20% of time for pet projects. Extremely tough recruitment process with more than 7 meetings on average before hiring. Engineers as sacred cows. All of those, and many more, combined in one place create unique management culture, which is against anything you could learn during an MBA course. And it builds the success of the company.

I’m impressed. But I’m not going to follow. There are of course some ideas I’d like to implement but, in both scenarios, model as a whole isn’t copyable. As Tom Evslin writes, a barely-graduated hire won’t be as smart as Bill Gates only when he’s as rude. Typical organization won’t achieve a stunning success only when they spend one day in a week for employees’ pet projects.

I think that organizing a company in a way which allows people to like (just like, nothing more) their employer is tough enough to doom the management to failure in vast majority of cases.

in: team management

3 comments… add one

  • Arjun Thomas May 30, 2007, 12:33 am

    very interesting article…

  • Anonymous June 4, 2007, 3:43 am

    This is why you are a manager in Wind Telecom rather than Google

  • Pawel Brodzinski June 4, 2007, 12:02 pm

    Why? I believe I’d prove myself worthy if I were a manager in Google. I don’t see a problem to live and work in organization which is completely different than those from my past. One can only learn from changing environment.

    Yet still, I don’t think the model Google has chosen to manage organization is repeatable in any given company. And Wind is a good example here. Different customers and users, different scale, different type of projects, different financial situation, different stakeholders and last but not least different people. The management model, you want it or not, has to be different too.

    When managing different things (project, product), and especially when managing people, you can’t ignore environment around you. And while I’m really impressed with One Google Management Way I think, when implemented as a copy, it would rather kill Wind (to keep the example) than helped the company.

    Btw: I’m keen to discuss the subject so if you’re interested contact me at pawel.brodzinski [at] gmail.com

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