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Culture Builders and Killers

hand.jpg Culture Builder: Have team members share their experiences in applying new techniques and methods at team meetings on a regular basis. It is even valuable to discuss the methods that didn’t work. This approach to team meetings is much more stimulating than hearing routine progress reports on projects that are underway. Team meetings provide an opportunity to learn about new ways to solve problems and to leverage from what others have already done.

hand.jpg Culture Builder: If your group merges with another during a corporate reorganization, or if you hire several new developers at once, ask everyone in the new group to bring samples of specific work products to a team meeting to pass around. Examples are requirements specification documents, test plans, and system documentation. This open sharing can facilitate an attitude of seeking out best practices from wherever you find them, as well as helping to reach agreement on how certain engineering tasks should be performed in your environment.

hand.jpg Culture Builder: If your project team is getting swamped, take responsibility yourself for doing a part of the work. Even if the contribution is not substantial (and it probably shouldn’t be; you have other responsibilities that should not be ignored), the symbolic value of the manager rolling up his sleeves and helping to carry the load can help motivate the rest of the team. It will also help you understand the problems they face and obstacles you can remove from their path.

culture-killer.jpg Culture Killer: As the manager, make sure you have the most powerful workstation in the group, even if you use it only for e-mail. This shows that an individual’s value to the organization is indicated by the number of MIPS on his desk.

culture-killer.jpg Culture Killer: If your senior managers don’t understand software, software engineering, or software process improvement, don’t waste your time trying to educate them or persuade them to invest time and money in your improvement efforts. If they don’t think you should be learning to work smarter, you might as well keep doing things the way you always have.

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