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Chapter 53. Culture Change > Alpha to Omega - Pg. 173

Culture Change 173 Me, Us, or Them How does an organization know what it knows? How does it control what it does? How does it decide what to do? In each case, we are interested in the principal center or primary repository of knowl- edge, control, or decision making. Is it the individual, the informal group, or the formal institution? The first question of importance is: Where do you find the software development know-how of the organization? Is it carried mostly in individual heads, is it part of the collective folklore of "how things are done around here," or is it in officially established methods and procedures? In a sense, where do practices "live" and who "owns" them? How much of the know-how can we find in company manuals and guidebooks? To learn about how software development is really done, where would you have to go? Does your company rely first, last, and foremost on what bright and skilled indi- viduals know and do so well? What would we learn by hanging out in the cafeteria or listening to discussions in the halls? Is "best practice" defined in terms of personal best. Or is what constitutes "good programming" a part of the unwritten folklore about things that work and things that don't? Is the project-to-project learning in the individual, is it dispersed through the group, or does it get built into and institutionalized in the records and revised formal practices of the organization? We can ask similar questions about how development is controlled, in particular how quality results are assured. Do you depend on individual good judgment and the fact that you have the very best people? Are informal group sanctions operating, with people looking over each other's shoulders or frequently checking out and comparing their code? Or does the organization have written standards with systematic checks to make sure they are followed? It's the same for decisions about what gets done and how. If a group typically designs by consensus, a top-management edict to use Groupware Gadget G will have tough sledding. A group that is accustomed to being told what the next project will be and what technology will be used to implement it may not respond well to having the question of rapid prototyping put to a vote.