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Łukasz Olczyk

Łukasz Olczyk

Logistics of Software Development

In my teens, I spent countless hours playing real-time strategy games, starting with Dune 2, first of the genre. I had quite a lot of fun figuring out the ways to trick opponents, lure them into traps or, my personal favourite, flank them. Toying with tactics was quite a fun, especially considering I could always restart level. On the other hand, another hundreds of hours went into games like Panzer General or Civilization, where carefully calculated strategy was the key to success. Again, a lot of fun. To show it in the corporate reality, RTS games are like being a project manager, with strategy games like being a CEO. It often seems that mastering the tactics and strategy is enough to beat the competition, be it on the battlefield or in business. Thing is though, apparently it isn’t.

We often go far in our effort to provide our customers with better solutions. We strive for quality, we want our people to grow and master the skilful delivery of best product possible. And yet, far too often, we hardly give them a chance to make this evolution easy. This way, our efforts to capture the market don’t end up as well as they could. Or, sometimes, they end up badly altogether. Let’s have a trip back into twentieth century.

There was a nation of great soldiers in Europe back then. More than that, they had the best engineers the world’s ever seen. The weapons they had at hand was technically superior to whatever their enemies could deploy against them. And yet, they managed to lose the World War. Twice.

“Amateurs talk about strategy; professionals talk about logistics.”
– Gen. Omar Bradley

This is what we – coaches, managers, scrum masters – tend to do very wrong. We focus on tactics, or, at best, strategy. When we want our teams to improve quality, we work on their mind sets first, we tackle the way of working, fine tune (or, usually, expand) checklists all around. And hardly ever we work on the logistics – in this case, this could be adding continuous integration setup with automated regression testing. While we read countless books on change management over and over again, we always swiftly skip the chapters saying that the easiest way to change one’s behaviour is to change the environment one is interacting with.

So, do you have great team leaders? Wonderful! Visionary CEO on board? Superb! Flaky logistics unable to adapt quickly to how you want your crew to grow? Fantastic, you’re going down.

(Post originally published on my blog: worldshappiestcoach.com)

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