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Leadership Without Management: Scaling Organizations by Scaling Eng...

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You had me at "Above all else engineers wish to make useful things."

 I wonder if those same organizational toxins apply to the academic world too? 

Yes, I think they apply to any organization of technical human beings.

So... nonprofits and open source projects, too.

Leadership without management is great and can work well, as long as you don't expect too many people to follow you.

Organizational nonsense is more a structural bias of larger numbers of people in any organizing model--public, private, for-profit, charitable, government, religious, etc. and not so much skewed by the core competencies or missions of the individuals comprising it:

Small teams can easily self-correct and stay on mission... larger groups of people, not so much.

Larger organizations are more complex, less-transparent and full of more competing objectives than smaller organizations.  Even when leadership and management are well-intentioned, at some point of operating scale they will become unable to effectively direct positive feedback and reward those responsible for ongoing achievement, or help those responsible for a lack of it move better along or get out of the way.  It is at this point where any operating environment starts to break down, where workplaces viscerally tilt towards being an energy suck instead of a place that regenerates ongoing enthusiasms for progress.  Of course, any company could startup with an asshole that creates a horrid environment from the get go, but the challenge of scaling organizations is one of overcoming inherent human scale resistance to structural size, like hull speed on boats given their choice of aspect ratio.  Organizational leaders, when seeking to effectively add more people and address greater operating complexity often intentionally seek to avoid as much energy sucking nonsense as possible, but the devil is in the organizational design, not so much in the details of who's being brought onboard.

In other words, although they might be a good core for a startup company, I wouldn't bet on engineers alone to drive success in scaling operations.  As I wouldn't bet on any professional skill set of individuals alone to be the answer... I'd bet on the environment design.

Interesting and novel analysis!  Need to chew on this to see if (or perhaps "when" or "how") I agree..


I do love this: "Software engineering is an act of divining structure from chaos to chart a path through the unknown: every line of code is a business decision."

That's... profound.

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