Individuals and interactions or processes and tools?
As the developer cheerfully runs over to work with Sue in the deployment team, with an extra cup of coffee, he is stopped by Charlie, the manager of the deployment team.
-Hey, where are you going?
-To see Sue about the deployment, the developer answered.
-Have you written a ticket?
-What? No, I’m gonna talk to Sue and we’ll do the deployment together as usual.
-Sorry, Charlie said, we have implemented a ticketing system last week, and you need a ticket. We can’t have developers running all over the place disturbing our team all the time!
That story actually happened at a client I was working with. The development teams had always been walking over to the ops/deployment teams and worked together on deployments (yes, CI/CD is faster, better and less error prone, but this was how it worked there at the time). This was some kind of spontaneous self-organization happening just in time, and the developers and ops people had a good relationship.
Then suddenly they introduced a ticketing system in order to create traceability (so that they knew who to blame when it went south, I guess). Conversations then stopped between the teams as all talking was moved into writings in the tool instead. Needless to say, relationships deteriorated from there. It did not take long until I started to hear expressions like “developers know nothing about what we do or how complex our work is”, or “Gaah, do I really have to write this in the ticket, they literally sit 50 meters away!” and so on. Life was like that for a couple of weeks until I introduced a little concept known as DevOps.
At more or less all the clients I work with they are using Jira, finding it hard, overly complex and too much detail for what they need. When I ask the question why they use Jira if they find it not supporting their way of work, the answer is almost always the same; “I don’t know” or “we already had it in department X, so…”
Here’s another fine example. In SAFe, the hierarchy goes from Epics to Features to User Stories. In Jira it goes from Features to Epics to User Stories. The other way around of course. So the conversations are filled with misunderstandings as we don’t know if we are talking about a SAFe Epic or a Jira Epic.
I’ve seen this over and over again. We go directly to solutions, trying to find a tool without reflecting on what we want to achieve. When the tool is in place, we discover that it doesn’t really support the way we want to work, but then it is too late. What I would like to see isn’t so much a discussion on whether or not we can find the perfect tool, but rather a discussion on what behaviours that we want the tool to support.
How come it is so hard to think about “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools”? What is it that makes people dive straight into tools and gadgets and become forced to a way of working dictated by a tool? Please share your thoughts in the comments.