Yesterday I discovered David Jackson’s blog A Founder’s Notebook on Fred Wilson’s blog. I skipped through a few posts and found Setting clear goals = empowerment. Jackson currates a wide array of content across other blogs and writes brief thoughts on the issue. I’m going to pull from his book.
From A Small World CEO Sabine Heller‘s Corner Office interview:
You have to manage people based on results and set clear goals. It sounds like a simple thing, but people don’t do that often. When I was 22 and working at UGO, it didn’t matter that I had no experience and it didn’t matter what my process was as long as I hit my goal. It taught me how empowering it is to be treated like that. I am a great manager for people who are strong thinkers and motivated. I empower people. I promote people. I give them a lot of leeway. At the end of the day, I look at results, and that’s it. I feel very strongly that organizations infantilize employees. You should treat them like adults.
At my current position as a software engineer at Conde Nast, I have been a part of two tech teams. I have worked on projects that affect platform level code. In my experience, I am most productive when project scope predetermined by the client. I can commit to a clear timeline, only if I understand the expected output. If I am given an unrefined project, there must be an predetermined time limit.
Have clear project definitions before passing on a project to engineers. If the project is not build, then run the ideas past a designer and start on a visual mock. If the visual mock passes the project developer’s taste, then build an prototype. Don’t waste time going into the production build. Figure out the issues and assumptions associated with the prototype. Once product owner vets a prototype, you can build. Someone who understands the potential conflicts of the prototype needs to provide a final review. If all is good, reevaluate a timeline and commit to it.
After the initial design/prototype is complete, an estimate should be accurate. Before design, an estimate can’t be accurate because the project scope will change. This is not the engineers fault. The person who determines the product must take full responsibility. This would be the product manager or the CEO of a company. Before the designer passes ideas onto development, refine it. Clear goals inspire effective work. Defined product expectations will also result in productive engineer time.