Measure and Mismeasure of man; misuse of data

There are a number of reasons to be cautions in how we use the detailed developer data. The problems of measuring people leading to mismanagement are described in an excellent book by Robert Austin, Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations. I recommend this text to any manager faced with the problems of evaluating people and setting goals. This is a big subject and a few future posts will explore some of the considerations.

An essential issue concerns motivation. TSP works when the team is provided with motivating goals. They use their data to manage their work and improve their personal performance. Project success depends on an often delicate balance of competing priorities and goals.

Even using personal data for positive reinforcement can upset this balance.

Consider this Dilbert cartoon from November 13 1995

http://search.dilbert.com/search?p=R&srid=S3%2d3&lbc=dilbert&w=Minivan&url=http%3a%2f%2fdilbert%2ecom%2fstrips%2fcomic%2f1995%2d11%2d13%2f&rk=2&uid=566346611&sid=2&ts=custom&rsc=vjBPrPAsFjllKYhB&method=and&isort=date&view=list&filter=type%3acomic

Developers are smart people and they will respond to incentives. A well intentioned incentive can have unfortunate consequences. In this cartoon, the real goal was to deliver a quality product.

Be careful what you ask for, because you might get it, good and hard.

Bibliography

Robert D. Austin, 1996. Measuring and Managing Performance in Organizations. New York: Dorset House Publishing.

Watts Humphrey, TSP: Coaching Development Teams, Addison-Wesley Professional

TSP: Coaching Development Teams (The SEI Series in Software Engineering)

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TSP: Coaching Development Teams (The SEI Series in Software Engineering)

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About Bill Nichols

PhD in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University I'm a software team coach and instructor with the TSP Team at the Software Engineering Institute
This entry was posted in Performance Management, Personal Data, TSP, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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