Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Hockey Maturity Model

IT Departments often fond themselves in a state of "low" maturity, typified by radically inconsistent processes, total lack of standardization, and a lack of transparent accountability.

Management frequently points to a lack of specialized skill sets as a contributing cause to lack of efficiency and delivery expertise. A typical reaction to this state of the nation is implement highly prescriptive process alongside very explicit (and rigid) roles and responsibilities. I've found it to be less than helpful to debate any of these assumptions head one. What I have found to resonate with some clients is what I call the "Hockey Maturity Model".

IT Departments often find themselves in a state of "low" maturity, typified by radically inconsistent processes, total lack of standardization, and a lack of transparent accountability.

Management frequently points to a lack of specialized skill sets as a contributing cause to lack of efficiency and delivery expertise. A typical reaction to this state of the nation is implement highly prescriptive process alongside very explicit (and rigid) roles and responsibilities. I've found it to be less than helpful to debate any of these assumptions head one. What I have found to resonate with some clients is what I call the "Hockey Maturity Model".


--The Little Leaguer-

The first stage of maturity is what I call the little leaguer, imagine this is the frost year your child is playing hockey with others equally new to the game. gameplay is typified by both teams swarming the puck in a chaotic fashion, lots of chopping and whacking at the puck, very little passing, and no teamwork. This is your ad-hoc, uber generalist organization, occasionally a goal is scored, but heroics are required and effort is extraordinary.





--The Table Top--





The second stage is what I call table top hockey. Now picture you are playing hockey using one of those table top games, you know the ones where different player positions located in specific slots that allow movement pre described ways so that you can simulate the typical movement of a specific position.

Now this a better way to play hockey than the little league approach, passing is now encouraged, and individual players in the game have clear accountabilities creating a more professional atmosphere. But closer examination reveals flaws, individuals are restricted from working out of pre set boundaries making it sometime impossible to get at the puck, and truly magnificent plays are impossible to pull off. Performance peaks quickly, and play satisfaction is low. This feeling of mediocracy and dare say stagnation is one that I've felt in organizations that have become to focus on process, and putting boxes around their employees. Look for symptoms like a developer refusing to test code because it's not his job.


--The Integrated Team--




Now let's think about how hockey is played when professionals, or even experienced amateurs do it. In this case all players are allocated to a particular position and have differentiated skills and responsibilities necessary to help them excel as an integrated team. What makes this type of hockey different is that it would be unthinkable for a defensemen to not try to score if he circumstances give him a shot. Likewise you'd never hear anyone committed to playing hockey refuse to deflect a shot on his goal. Key here is that explicit roles don't get in the way with what's more important, and that's winning the game.

Truly effective organizations deliver software this way, specialization, and clear roles don't get in the way of the need to pinch hit, and step out side of job descriptions. Net net, teamworks trump all other concerns.

4 comments:

  1. Fellow Grosvenor bratJune 18, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Ya but everybody just wants a good hockey fight anyhoo

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  2. Fellow Grosvenor brat said...

    Ya but everybody just wants a good hockey fight anyhoo

    What have said here is very true. Customer values to any profession can vary widely depending on who is looking.

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  3. Maybe we can even learn a bit or two from the way hockey is toughed to little leaguers in order to move them up to the integrated team level. Old school hockey practice was all about drilling routines, leaving little room for creativity and interpretation. New school hockey practice (at least that is how I got it from the IIHF coaching training) is about letting the kids play little games with constraints so that they develop insight and don't loose their creativity and thinking on the ice.

    Having watched my kids develop and experiencing the interaction within the teams that they have played with, I feel that a lot can be learned from how teams develop in a teamsport.

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  4. Fantastic insight,

    It looks like us agile / lean coaches should Spend more time studying how team sports are taught, we light learn a thing or ten...

    ReplyDelete