Joel on management

Apparently Joel Spolsky is currently on holiday, but he’s put together some interesting posts about management, specifically about managing developers. Part two of his three-part series of posts was released today, and is well worth a read. In it, Joel talks about what he refers to as “Econ 101 management”, the profoundly flawed approach that says financial reward and / or punishment is the best way to provide incentives for your staff:

Suppose you decide to pay a bonus to the developer with the fewest bugs. Now every time a tester tries to report a bug, it becomes a big argument, and usually the developer convinces the tester that it’s not really a bug. Or the tester agrees to report the bug “informally” to the developer before writing it up in the bug tracking system. And now nobody uses the bug tracking system. The bug count goes way down, but the number of bugs stays the same.

Developers are clever this way. Whatever you try to measure, they’ll find a way to maximize, and you’ll never quite get what you want.
Now that I’ve shot down Command and Control management and Econ 101 management, there’s one more method managers can use to get people moving in the right direction. I call it the Identity method and I’ll talk about it more tomorrow.

Have a read and decide which method appeals most to you… Chortle.


  1. … and here’s part 3! Poole#

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I’m a software architect / developer / general IT wrangler specialising in web, mobile web and middleware using things like node.js, Java, C#, PHP, HTML5 and more.

Best described as a simpleton, but kindly. You can read more here.