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Chapter 11. Traditional Tactics > Getting Organized

Getting Organized

So, let's get organized! The simplest and safest way to go is the tried and true of standard operating procedure. The traditional way to coordinate the work of more than one person is to put someone in charge, making them a supervisor. The function of the supervisor is to direct and oversee the work of others. This structure can be extended by recursion. The result is a hierarchy of managers in charge of others who manage still others. This is a simple, stable, and familiar form of organization: a traditional pyramid based on a hierarchy of authority. On software projects organized along this model, the hierarchy may not be many layers deep, but it is still a hierarchy. In principle, it can be amazingly efficient; in practice it can grow into a towering bureaucracy incapable of anything but sustaining its own bureaucratic inefficiency.

Such a model is more than merely a way of working; it can be a way of life. I was recently reorganizing my record collection to make room for the steadily multiplying CDs when I found a real treasure, a vintage recording of “Paean,” selections from the IBM corporate songbook.[*] Listening to the Association of British Secretaries in America (indeed!) sing their stirring rendition of “The IBM Country Club Song,” I started thinking about company culture and how the way we work shapes the way we view the world as much as the other way around.

[*] Released as a joke for one of the major computer conferences but not without its valid insight into corporate culture and politics.


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