[MUD-Dev] DevCore Project Management

Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no> Ola Fosheim Grøstad <olag@ifi.uio.no>
Tue Nov 3 15:57:42 New Zealand Daylight Time 1998

Jon Leonard wrote:
> 1) Is there a better choice for "dictator" (project maintainer)?

Who knows?

> 2) Are there problems with my (or the, depending) vision of the project?

Well, that's what I tried to get you looking into...

First of all there are (at least) two ways to manage a project:

1) a manager who gets to decide 
2) a coordinator who makes sure that questions get asked and decisions get
   made(but doesn't neccessarily contribute to the decision)

General american business management seems to go with 1. Modern flat
organizations seems to go with 2.  2 is judged to be the better approach
with "smart" people for a number of obvious reasons I shall not get into. I
assume 2 would work best with volunteers, and is what "project maintainer"

What are then the duties that follows being a coordinator?  This is
something one should get to an agreement on.

This is what I see as some duties:

- control progress (and make sure changes are made if progress is low)
- predicting and resolving upcoming conflicts among team members
- sweet talking volunteers into doing the boring jobs
- being able to redistribute jobs and making sure that the general attitude
is "this is ours" rather than "this is mine". (why did you throw out MY
superior code)
- keeping track of the missing bits
- making sure that the bigger picture is taken into account
- quitting when one realize that coordinating takes too much time
- keeping a record which ensures that somebody else can step in

Here are some properties which I think makes a good coordinator:

- he has an interest in seeing the project done, but has no rigid opinions
on it
- he is prepared to spend most of his time doing coordination rather than
- he is good at keeping people happy even when they have good reasons for
not being happy
- he is capable of making sure that the project doesn't suffer from keeping
everybody happy
- he is generally being a picky and annoying person, without being perceived
as one
- he is not afraid of asking the stupid questions, and prefer asking rather
than assuming "I think I understand/know".
- he is not afraid of asking how things are going, when they are expected to
be done, and if somebody else perhaps should help out
- he is more interested in organizing other people's opinions rather than
stating his own
- he is more inclined to make sure that people have what they need to be
productive rather than to do things himself
- he is willing to do the boring bits that nobody wants to do
- he loves bookkeeping
- he loves people
- he knows a lot about groups of people...
- he knows and admits that he doesn't know...
- he is more concerned about progress and QA than becoming a leader

I guess this pretty much takes the glory out of leadership.  Btw, has anyone
had the unfortunate experience of being in a project where you basically
know nothing about the other people, select one person as the formal leader
only to discover that that person is not informally accepted in the group
and thus the projects runs to failure without any control at all?  I haven't
yet heard of a good way to replace the person coordinating if it happens to
be more than he is willing/capable of doing, is there one?

Just to illustrate, here are some reasons for why I would make a lousy
- I am uneccessarily sarcastic
- I get too many new ideas and loose interest too quickly
- I find it easier to do everything myself than to get other people to do it
- I enjoy playing the game "defending my opinion"
- I don't admit what I don't know
- I don't communicate a love for everybody
- I don't record and investigtate everybody's opinon
- I prefer doing creative work
- I don't have enough time

Just some more illustration. If people are to be judged by their activities,
here are some related to coordination which have been spotted in mud-dev:

- JCL provides structures which allows other people to be productive
- Chris G makes sure he understand by asking questions where other people
are afraid of loosing face.
- Raph organize a statements taken from mud-dev and put words on his
- Marian follows discussions even though she has little interest in
programming, and she openly admits what goes "over her head".

I don't know of any obvious coordinator in mud-dev, if I were to vote (which
I am not) I probably would have voted for Chris Gray.

A happily uncoordinated devils advocate,

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