Read Next

A City View

I got a lot of feedback that the post on role shapes was useful to people, but it's only one metaphor, and no metaphor is complete. The subtractive way of thinking about work simplifies away many aspects of development: it ignores the way the needed work can change and morph over time, it ignores the way that good decisions in one area can change the work in another, and it postulates a "set of all work" as though it's a knowable thing. Other than trivially simple projects, the set of all work is not something you can just write down with confidence. A huge part of the challenge of running a project is the skill of sussing out what needs to be done in the first place, and reconciling world views between teammates so you can have productive conversations about the work.

When I think about this what comes to mind is a city. The city has development that needs doing, and also ongoing maintenance. Fires happen, bridges collapse, stuff like that. Your job, your whole team, is to array yourselves around the city to get the work done. How do you lay yourselves out?

Every place you can stand in the city involves a tradeoff between direct agency and line of sight. By "direct agency" I mean the ability to actually do things, like fix broken water mains or build a garage or pave a road. By "line of sight" I mean the set of all things you can see from where you're standing, and how well you can see them

If your project is very small, then in the metaphor it's a little village. If it's really tiny maybe it's just a little shed. And maybe there's just two of you building the shed. There aren't that many perspectives you can have on a shed. You will sometimes see things differently, because you're standing on different sides of the shed, or one of you is on a ladder looking at the roof while the other is inside looking at the interior. But it's easy to reach a shared fundamental understanding. You can get blueprints and spend half an hour looking at them and agreeing on them.

Rendering New Theme...