People work hard for money, harder for leaders… but hardest for a cause.

May 8, 2012 § 2 Comments

From my vantage, the Atlanta Scrum Gathering was largely a success. There were a few stand-out talks, but some duds as well. I was surprised by how light many of the presentations actually were–perhaps because agile methodologies tend to be pretty simple in the first place. That said, there were a couple of learnings that will stick with me as I move our organization forward.

Time boxing is not a pre-requisite for effective Agile. The closer we’ve moved to Continuous Delivery, the more the time-boxing of our Sprints has felt like an artificial construct. Lots of people have run into this problem when working on queue-driven activities. One person shared an example of an off-shore team whose entire job was to write regular expressions for website scraping. There was no reason to use a time-boxed release cadence. Instead, the team pulled work from a queue at a consistent pace, delivering the work as it was completed. The ER (Escalation Response) team at AtTask is already doing this, just without a mechanism for observability by external participants, or a formal improvement program. I believe that Kanban solves this problem in an elegant way, and would be a relatively painless model to explore.

“People work hard for money, and harder for leaders. People work hardest for a cause.” This quote was shared during this mornings keynote by a gentleman named Tanner Corbridge. He works with Partners in Leadership, the company behind The Oz Principle. He mentioned it almost as an aside, but it certainly resonated with me. The fire that we instill in our organization should not be about compensation, or about the charisma of those that lead our teams. It should be about building our culture around a common purpose. It’s something we should have laser like focus on in everything we do. I’m very proud of AtTask’s culture, and believe that our adoption of agile has helped us focus on our common cause. AtTask is about improving the work lives of knowledge workers across the world, and we can measure ourselves against that cause. I’m looking forward to discovering ways to accomplish that going forward.

Oh, and Zombie survival video games are a great platform for exploring agile. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

§ 2 Responses to People work hard for money, harder for leaders… but hardest for a cause.

  • PM Hut says:

    From my experience, people work hard for money at the beginning of their job (during the first few months), but after that, money is no longer motivating. What’s motivating will be the challenges at the work and the leader. Even the abundance of money is not a huge motivator once they have the job.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Jesse Dowdle says:

      You are correct, the money is mostly just bait. The best employees I have are engaged with the purpose of our business, not from a dollars and cents perspective, but out of a desire to build a product people love.

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