Carrying the Torch

2008_Olympic_Torch_Relay   As the Olympic Torch heads towards San Francisco and what should be an event that joins nations together instead has been mired in controversy, I think of how often one person carrying a torch can bring to light issues and needs that otherwise would remain in the dark.

In a company, torch bearers are needed in every organization.  It’s easy to get in a rut of complatency, doing your job day after day.  Often no one notices the slow deteriorization of quality or effectiveness.

Another way of saying it may simply be that no one is “watching the ship.”  Some might argue “Isn’t that just a normal part of good management?”  But to that I’d respond “Yes.  But…”

Yes.  It’s true that good managers continually monitor and measure performance.  But after 30 years in the software business I can also say it’s common for even good managers to get focused on the wrong metrics.  Or focused on fighting fires and the performance and process metrics go by the way-side.  Or focused on following the company mantra and miss the signs that indicate real, underlying trouble.

March’s blog talked about the use of metrics to identify and quantify changes in effectiveness over time.  But often the message that the metrics are elucidating go unnoticed unless people are ready and willing to carry the torch to help the decision makers and top-level management see the light.

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