Am I a resource?

I have to say that every time anybody talk about resource I like to ask for details: are you talking about people or computers? Sometimes I think I’m wasting my time but I’m just trying to add my “little grain of sand” in order people think or reconsider this question: “Why am I a resources?”

A short history

First of all, we have to go a long time ago, well maybe not too much, more or less at 1900. After a huge industrial movement Frederick Taylor developed a scientific management method to organize workers. Their goals were to maximise the efficiency of workforce, tools and equipments. (Is he actually talking about resources? ) In order to do that and at the same time decreasing costs, he divided each process into small and mechanical tasks, make sets of process with their sequence, timed operations and a monetary reward based on performance in order to motivate. I don’t know you but every time I read this scientific method I feel like Michael J. Fox going back with my DeLorean DMC-12 at 1900. In some ways I think that Taylor was concerned about how resources, sorry workers, could produce in a constant pace, in order to make forecasting, manufacturing process efficiency, etc. and for this reason did this reductionism.

After this Henry Ford continued with what Taylor started expanding it into assembly line and a mass production of goods with standardized process and unskilled labor. Hence could produce loads of models of the same product in a cheaper way which will produce an impact on markets. Then Fordism and the Scientific Management could know how it’s going their process takeing into account if I have 3 machines, 6 workers, every worker work 8 hours per day, every machine needs one worker to complete the process, every worker needs a subset of tools, one month has 720 hours…. Sums, subtracts, divisions and Tada!!! You could extract a lot of performance indicators.

But after the WW II (about 1990) people from Toyota introduced Just-In-Time and Lean. Erasing waste inside the process they could improve workflow, they could produce more than one single product, workers could move and learn new things and with that knowledge they can tweak, tune and improve each process where they are involved, this last point also gave them social stimulus which foster team work. With this new way of manufacturing they could produce more things, more cheaper (without wastes like transport, overproduction, inventory, motion, over processing… ) and a skillfully staff which embrace change and continuous improvements (or kaizen).

Thinking about…

This makes me think a lot…. Looks that manufacturing moved on from the Scientific Management and added new insights, this is because there is a lot of books, papers, articles which talk that maybe nowadays what Taylor and Ford did is not as good as it was or maybe it doesn’t work for all kind of process. First Alfie Kohn had written a lot of information at one of his books “Punished by Rewards” (from 1992) talking about why monetary reward doesn’t work: it kills intrinsic motivation, creativity, etc. And continues with Frederick Brooks with his book “The Mythical Man-Month” (1975) more focused in the IT world and “Peopleware” (Tom DeMarco 1987) which also talk that this model it doesn’t work. Computers are complex, developing is very creative process, development is made or build by people and definitely people are complex, for this reason things happens and we cannot take the clock and time concrete process inside software development that won’t work, maybe doing poor estimations but only this not at all commitments.

Move on and evolve!

At sum up, I think we should move on. We should stop talking about people as resources, which some times it is translated as allocating resources, reserving resources, etc. Since 2001 a group of people did the Agile Manifesto, we also have the Manifesto for software craftmanship and also Lean (as Poppendiecks have a lot of things to say about that) all of them talk also about values and not being only a resource, we are people with motivations, with aspirations, willing to do a good job. If we have enought room to be empowered, learn, experiment, improve workflows, celebrate things, etc. we can give a lot of value to costumers, for sure. Either we work less than 8 hours or we stop being a resource in a Gantt charts.

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Agile, Lean, company culture, new ways of management or self-management enthusiast.

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Joan Díaz

Joan Díaz

Agile, Lean, company culture, new ways of management or self-management enthusiast.

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