Tom Demarco, Tim Lister

The underlying thesis is that "the major problems of our work are not so much technological as sociological in nature." It abounds with gems such as, "The manager's function is not to make people work, it is to make it possible for people to work." It deals with such mundane topics as space, furniture, team meals together. [Fred Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month]

Productivity: output per hour worked, or, output per hour paid

Overtime for salaried workers is a figment of the naive manager's imagination. Oh, there might be some benefit in a few extra hours worked on Saturday to meet a Monday deadline, but that's almost always followed by an equal period of compensatory "undertime" while the workers catch up with their lives. [p32]
I did some consulting for a project that was proceeding so smoothly that the project manager knew she would deliver the product on schedule. She was summoned in front of the management committee and asked for a progress report. She said she could guarantee that her product would be ready by the deadline of March 1, exactly on time according to the original estimate. The upper managers chewed over that piece of unexpected good news and then called her in again the next day. Since she was on time for March 1, they explained, the deadline had been moved up to January 15. [p35]
A schedule that the project could actually meet was of no value to those Spanish Theory managers, because it didn't put the people under pressure. Better to have a hopelessly impossible schedule to extract more labor from the workers.

Historians long ago formed an abstraction about different theories of value. The Spanish Theory held that only a fixed amount of value existed on earth, and therefore the path to the accumulation of wealth was to learn to extract it more efficiently from the soil or from people's backs. Then there was the English Theory that held that value could be created through ingenuity and technology. So the English had an Industrial Revolution, while the Spanish spun their wheels trying to exploit the land and the Indians in the New World. They moved huge quantities of gold across the ocean, and all they got for their effort was enormous inflation (too much gold chasing too few goods). [p31]

The Spanish Theory of Value is alive and well among managers everywhere. You see that whenever they talk about productivity. Productivity ought to mean achieving more in an hour of work, but all too often it has come to mean extracting more for an hour of pay. There is a large difference. The Spanish Theory managers dream of attaining new productivity levels through the simple mechanism of unpaid overtime. They divide whatever work is done in a week by forty hours, not by the eighty or ninety hours that the worker actually put in. This is the "state of the art" for many American managers.

Big-M Methodology Little-m methodology
an attempt to centralize thinking the natural selection of successful practice
"in process we trust" "in people we trust"
seeks to force convergence of method through statute achieves convergence of method through: training, tools, and peer review
the manuals command many inches of linear shelf space the total of all imposed standards is described in ten pages or less
preaches "faith" in deterministic process accomodates adhoc-racy and non-determinism
encourages people to build documents rather than do work encourages people to recognize and heal problems
a morass of paperwork a celebration of common sense
an absense of responsibility no excuse for loyal stupidity
a general loss of motivation the Hawthorne Effect - people perform better when they're trying something new
"malicious compliance" "change agents"

It's the people, stupid!

The best people outperform the worst by 10:1
The best people outperform the median performer by 2.5:1
The better-than-median performers outperform the other half by 2:1

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect is a well established phenomenon. It states that by merely participating in a test, trial, or study, the participants (or patients) have a better experience because they experience considerate attention which is gratifying to them and rewarding in its own sake. For this reason the participants experience better results regardless of the change provided or the treatment experienced.

The designation "Hawthorne" derives from a number of studies which were performed on workers at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant in Cicero, Illinois, in 1927. One of the studies was in regard to improved lighting which was found to significantly improve worker productivity. Rather than simply accept this data one investigator decided to repeat the study with decreased lighting and found that this also improved productivity. The conclusion was that it was the attention itself which was the important factor, not the lighting. Since 1927 the Hawthorne Effect has been substantiated in numerous other situations.

You get what you inspect.

Put yourself in the shoes of one of these weary, ignored, and neglected workers. A collection of smart-looking researchers show up and constantly check on how well you're doing. They nod, click their stop watches, and scribble on their clipboards regularly recording your productivity. You get attention. Someone actually cares about how well you are doing. What happens? Productivity goes up. If the researchers give more breaks, you produce more. When they give less breaks (or even no breaks at all) you produce still more. Why? Because you feel special, important and that your job is important.

Common sense versus formal process

If a "system" has a sufficient degree of natural adhoc-racy, it's a mistake to automate it.

The reason that non-deterministic systems can heal themselves is because the humans have an easy familiarity with the underlying goals. They know immediately what actions make sense. The people who make the system go, "fix" it on the fly, and do not think twice about seeking permission or consulting procedure.

Making a system deterministic results in the loss of its ability to heal itself. If ever the system needs to be healed, that can only be done outside the context of its operation.