PermaLink The strange task of managing Domino people01/31/2008 08:21 PM
Even in the already-strange world of technical management, Domino people are different, and "managing" them is different.  Not everybody gets this, and even fewer actually know how to do it.  I am, unfortunately, working with some people in this category, and it's starting to eat my brain at a faster rate.

I think the best thing that a "manager" of highly technical people can, if they themselves do not genuinely understand the technology and the culture it creates, is to stay out of the way, don't ask dumb questions, and get a decent budget together. And don't, don't, don't ever get the idea that your technical people work "for you." They do not. They realize that all of you work for the customers. Your job isn't to "manage" them, since they're better at doing it for themselves, it's to get them the resources they need and make sure other people don't interfere with them getting the task done.

My most successful periods in my work life have been when I've had "managers" who understood all this and knew basically to just get out of the way and let me do what I'm good at. The least successful periods were when I was under the putative control of people who didn't really understand the technology and as a result tended to be process-oriented rather than results-oriented. The kind who, because they don't really know what the hell you do all day or what you know, see no problem with dragging you into their games, that involve meetings, status reports, and other completely unproductive horseshit.

If you can, avoid such people. Be patient and outlast them. Do not play their dumb games.

So, why are Domino people different? We're more solitary, I think. People who work on lesser environments have to involve other people... database admins, server admins, people who run the version-control systems. Domino people can do it all themselves. You've got your database, and your IDE, and your version control if you want it, and your webserver. Just write your code and put it up. The idea of having a "manager" for such a person is actually kind of stupid. What can a nontechnical "manager" do to help such a person? Nothing. All they can do is interfere, reduce productivity, and piss the Domino person off enough that they start looking for another job. And to criticize the Domino developer because they "can't be managed" is idiotic as well. It's the "manager" who has the superfluous function here. Just get the hell out of the way and try not to ask stupid questions.

Do I have contempt for "management?" Yup. I've seen many more instances where results were ruined or damaged by "management" than instances where output was enhanced or quality improved. Domino people are proud. Conscientious. They do things right not because some "manager" was standing over them, but because they have a professional and personal interest in the results. They don't want to write crap.

And do you get the sense that maybe I'm stuck with such a "manager" right now? Heheh.

The cats are rolling around the floor acting like morons. I'm waiting for Nora to get home so we can grill some meat and catch up on things. I should do some laundry for the weekend, but every laundry basket in the house is already filled with clean laundry and nowhere to put it. I haven't been up to see the wabbits yet, but I assume they're fine. It's supposed to ice out tonight after midnight, so I'll assume roads will be chaos tomorrow and the panicky local schools will cancel or delay starting school. There are a lot of weather wimps here.

I think mostly what I'm trying to do is preserve my Lotusphere buzz. That rush that I get when I come back from Lotusphere, all fired up to Do Everything. Last year it got squashed out pretty fast by the damage to the diesel and the death of two cats on the day I got home, as well as other crap that happened in the following weeks. This year, though, I am rather militantly defending my buzz, and trying very hard not to get sucked into bullshit administrivia in lieu of real innovation. We have a Monday meeting so that us Sphereians can tell the nontechnical "managers" what we learned at Lotusphere. We'll give them some slides and recap the big stuff, but unless you were there, you never really get the buzz.

I wouldn't wanna share it this year, anyway.

My hair looks much better than it did in Orlando, by the way. Got it cut. Much better, much better.

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