IT Governance

Squads and Tribes over Silos and Towers

To phrase it one way, scientific management is the idea that labor should be divided to a point of optimal simplicity so that the processes become reliable in spite of the human dinguses actually doing the work. It is not the most optimistic business philosophy, but its popularity for many years was unchallenged. In a post at his blog, Joe the IT Guy explains how scientific management still permeates ITSM and how that may not be a great thing in this age of the cloud.

Cogs Can Rust

A major flaw of scientific management Joe identifies is that it feels too impersonal. People are cogs that fulfill their tasks in silos, which is a significant problem these days, as too much work in silos is cited as a reason that many IT projects fail. In other words, process optimization at an arbitrary, granular scale is causing severe inefficiencies at larger, more important scales.

Joe notes that such problems do not exist in modern startups, because their “young founders” just never thought to arrange the business with such a mentality in mind. He shares this breakdown of how Spotify, for instance, describes and models its teams:

  • Squad – the lowest common denominator, a small “start-up,” sits together, shares two pizzas, etc.
  • Tribe – multiple squads totaling 100 people or less (approximate to the Dunbar Number); the goal is to eliminate dependencies between squads (effectiveness over efficiency).
  • Chapter – designed to share learnings and increase economies without dependencies on topics like testing and security.
  • Guild – so that, on a wider level, individuals can share a wider community of interest across the organization.

Squads are better than silos because squads work toward the good of a product, not toward the optimization of a process. Squads are also measured according to the value they produce instead of just the costs they have incurred. This mentality of value and products over process and efficiency is a needed shift, and it is occurring right now. Are you on the right side of this mentality shift yet?

For further elaboration on these ideas, you can view the original post here:

John Friscia

John Friscia was the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success from 2015 through 2018. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and grew in every possible way in his time there. John graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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