How can we influence companies who are simply concerned with shareholder capital without respect for human capital starting with the software development and IT business?
Do we need an Ethical Framework in the Software Development and IT Business?
Welcome everybody to the first Grant Rule Memorial Talk.
I met Grant Rule a number of years ago, and I was very impressed with his wisdom, his intellect and his original ideas. He was very well respected and liked by most people. For me, he was a very important, intellectual partner because whenever I had difficulty trying to figure out what I needed to do when perhaps working with organizational change or introducing Lean and Agile, he always had some words of encouragement and wisdom about how I could move things forward. Sadly, I miss that.
When it came to thinking about a subject for this talk, it set my mind back to the times I worked with Grant. ‘What was his main strength?’ I asked myself. I think his main strength, in addition to his knowledge on Lean, Agile and software development, was his patience. I think that ran through the way he approached all his work. He was always patient. He would listen to people and gently lead them, through a series of questions, to new insights without making them feel silly or stupid. And that was an incredible gift.
So when I was asked to do this talk I had to think long and hard about ‘What would Grant like me to talk about?’ because there was a whole range of subjects he was very interested in. I started thinking about what values he was trying to bring into the world of software development. Apart from all the methods and the tools and the processes he developed, he also had a very human side and it was that humanity he was trying to get people to really understand.
In addition, he often talked about things like technical debt in software and he of course, as I said, had the methods and processes for dealing with it. He also talked even more about ‘social capital,’ which is basically the collective benefits derived from corporations between individuals and groups, while helping people realize their potential in the workplace. This was a consistent and really important theme that came from Grant and all his work.
Nevertheless, there were occasions when we got frustrated because of the large number of organizations who were just adopting the tools and methods in software development and IT without really thinking about what it meant for the way we manage the people who are actually doing the work. We know these methods only work when management behaviors and attitudes towards people changed from treating people as transactional workers to knowledge workers, to allow them to contribute their ideas and be free to experiment and innovate.
I wanted to make this notion of ‘social capital’ and changing the lives of people by changing the work environment, particula