Friday, August 20, 2004

Indian Software Management

Here's my two paisa on management!!!

Ok, not management in general, but what management is considered to be, within the realms of IT organisations, especially those dealing with software.

Unlike any other organisation of any shape or form, here human resources are the ONLY asset. It's possible to move any number of terabytes over a transatlantic cable, but not one will move without the right persons being at both the ends. Although this gets repeated ad nauseum, I still don't think it gets appreciated or recognised enough.

Surprisingly though, this does get appreciated at the team and project level. This is the level where actual planning, designing, construction, testing and implementing takes place. Basically, where actual work happens. But just at one level higher than this, when people start dealing with reports and charts, something happens! Egos start appearing, seemingly out of nowhere! Power becomes something to strive for! I don't know how this transition happens. Somehow, managements, especially Indian software managements, start getting bloated in the head. And suddenly, management stops being managing people to get work done. It becomes primarily managing egos of surrounding individuals to sustain one's own survival! This is the one thing that I failed to understand when I was in the 'management' cadre.

And where there's ego, there's politics. And where there's politics there's corruption. We think corruption is something like paying a bribe to get a driving license. But it's something far, far more sinister and insidious than that. It degrades morality, it kills ethics, and it drains the world of all it's colours and paints it only in grays. It dehumanises humans. (Sense of humour also gets degraded!!) Somehow, next time at the RTO to extend the license, it becomes a little easier to pay that bribe, it becomes a little easier to pay the customs guy at the airport, it becomes a little easier to lie.

And this is crazy, don't you think?

A long time back, Gandhi said, "What is morally wrong, can never be politically correct". This one quote that I repeat to myself again and again when I'm faced with a dilemma.

Today, I read a quote by Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, in an interview -
"Having another person's trust is more powerful than all other management techniques put together. I have no legal or explicit power. I only have the power of having people's trust - but that's a lot of power."

And this is the trust which the team places on managers.

I think there are a number of reasons why this trust gets broken. One of the main things ailing Indian software organisations, in my opinion, is the incessant urge to create more managers. I fail to understand why! After a few years in the (actual) work level, individuals are pushed into areas of management for some reason. I think the expectation is that if you're able to handle the technology, you'll be able to handle people who handle that technology. I think this, in essence, is a flawed argument. For some reason, the individual's own skills are considered secondary to being able to get someone at the management level!!

Okay, okay, I'm just talking out of my experience and that too only in one organisation, so my opinions might not be generic to other software organisations both in India and abroad.

But what do all of you think?


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