Re: 60 Hours per Week at Level 1 Process Maturity

Subject: Re: 60 Hours per Week at Level 1 Process Maturity
From: Andrew Plato <intrepid_es -at- yahoo -dot- com>
To: techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com
Date: Thu, 2 Sep 1999 20:17:07 -0700 (PDT)

> It has been my observation that, within the software industry, the average
> total hours worked per week is inversely related to the organizations
> Process Maturity Level. That is, as the Process Maturity Level decreases
> (moving from 5 to 0), the avg number of hours worked increases. Has this
> been your experience also?

Yes, this is true, but not for the reasons you are alluding to. As
organizations become more "organized" there is less responsibility and
therefore people work less. Mostly, there is less urgency to actually get
anything done. Once an organization is entrenched in an industry it has the
freedom to be bureaucratic and lazy. Companies with millions in the bank can
afford to develop intricate process models.

Less "mature" organizations do not have the luxury of money and time and
therefore everything must be done immediately and by a smaller number of
people. Thus those people must work more and are individually more productive.

What I suspect you are alluding to with your comment is the notion: "to reduce
work load and have happier more productive people, develop more efficient
process models"

Yes, if you develop efficient process models, you will reduce work load. But
you will not become a more productive or profitable organization. Efficiency
does not always equal productivity. In software development, efficiency
actually can be detrimental to productivity. Here's why...

Productivity is the capability for an organization to produce tangible assets
or make money. The more cars that Ford can ram out of a factory in a day, the
more productive Ford is and subsequently the more money they can potentially
make. However in the software industry, productivity is not measured in terms
of ramming out code. The process of ramming code out and pressing CDs is almost
inconsequential to having the best designs, best engineering, and most
revolutionary products.

Imagine if Ford had to retool the assembly line each time a new car was
produced. They would go broke in a day. In high tech, the physical production
of product is nothing. It comprises a tiny bit of the cost to bring a product
to market. As the saying goes, the first copy of Windows 95 cost Microsoft 100
million, but each copy after that was pure profit.

Therefore, in high-tech the ability to produce new products (tangible assets)
in an organized and efficient manner is almost irrelevant. Brain power is the
critical component. The brain power to create new things and design good
products makes high-tech companies rich and powerful. (Militant marketing Borg
don't hurt either.)

When Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak sat down to build the first Apples, they did
not have a mature process model. I don't think they had a process model at all.
They tinkered and fiddled until they designed something cool. Likewise, when
the guys who started E-Bay first built the site - they did not have a frickin'
clue what they were doing. They just did something that caught on and made
them all flippin' zillionares.

In other words, you cannot plan for genius on a Gantt chart.

Efficiency gives the illusion of productivity. Slapping a metric on a process
and producing a slick looking PowerPoint graph may FEEL productive and useful,
but it does not add true value to an organization.

So, making an organization more efficient may reduce workload, but it does not
mean things will become more productive. I think where many companies go wrong
is they assume that if they develop some exquisite process model, money will
start flowing from every orifice. This is simply not the case. There are
infinite examples of companies with great process models who are filing for
Chapter 11.

Case in point - Iridium. Boy - you should see the process crap this company
did. They had everything pegged down to the number of Cokes the support reps
could drink. Guess what - did that make anyone buy those ridiculous phones?
No. This company went broke finding efficiency in a market that did not exist.

Therefore, if you are pushing your boss to develop cool sounding process models
- don't delude yourself (or the boss). You're not making things better, you're
just making things more organized and trying to work less. Process models do
not make companies richer, people more fulfilled, or products better. Only
hard-work and good engineering can do that.

Andrew Plato
President / Principal Consultant
Anitian Consulting, Inc.

Do You Yahoo!?
Bid and sell for free at

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