Monday, August 14, 2006
Thoughts on EA Talent Management
The biggest drain in terms of talent management absolutely, positively has to be the lack of strong technical leadership within most enterprises. Folks lower on the food chain should aspire not to just have the position of their bosses but to be like them in many ways. In my travels, many EAs think that their bosses are idiots (NOTE: For the record, I like mines).
The Pavlov syndrome resonates in EA more than other parts of IT. Unmotivated architects will merely push buttons and play the script required to receive stimulus. Many of them evangelize but don't believe it is their job to think and outsource all strategy to insulting firms and large industry analysts who provide four-color chock-a-block eye candy Powerpoint that lacks substance. Other EAs only exist to follow the orders given to them by their managers.
In the past folks such as James Robertson, Chris Petrilli, Robert McIllree and others refered to many of us as being too enterprisey. Many of the web 2.0 and Ruby camp see us folks in the enterprise as a bunch of incompetent morons with personality disorders. Nothing could be further from the truth. Talent is always discussed in terms of IT executives. Maybe real talent management has to do with the deliberate steps an enterprise takes with folks lower on the food chain. An enterprise with a bad culture becomes like a graveyard with only those to feeble to go elsewhere left behind.
Here are some common themes that I think should be discussed whenever talking about talent management:
- No one is motivated by 3% raises: I wonder if management has ever figured out that their job is to get as much productivity out of folks they can. This requires upfront planning, not beatings and punishment at review time for their failings to do so. What if there were a policy that stated that no manager should ever get a raise unless every single member of their team is deserving of a raise as well. This would be an interesting take on what real talent management could become.
- Make work more interesting: One of the things that amazes me is that outsourcing works only because it has a racist component to it. What if management stopped thinking that 21-year old Indians who would be happy to make more money could provide more value than just being a dumping ground. I reflect on the days that when I was 21 and if I had the choice of working for (a) A software development company (b) a global consulting firm (c) Wall Street (d) your average enterprise that has tons of legacy systems, which one would I choose? I suspect you know it wouldn't have been the last one. Do we really believe that folks in India don't think the way we do and have similar aspirations?
- Focus on the work that folks do, not how they do it: I can't say enough that we have distorted the real intent of governance. The dictionary defintion means to influence the behaviors while many enterprises who lack strong technical leadership have bastardized the word into financial control. Micromanagement, governance or whatever new word gets invented to rationalize (remember, rationalization is a trap) their behavior is the second worst thing one can do to their enterprise that give competitive advantage to competitors. Governance nowadays has the effect of causing work to move at a snails pace and guarantees that folks will put in zero personal investment in terms of making it successful. They of course will pretend to care, but we all know better...
Maybe the first thing an enterprise that wants to improve the notion of EA talent management should do is to read Frederick the Great...