No Others

L’enfer, c’est les autres (Hell is other people)
Huis clos, Jean-Paul Sartre

Silos. Much have been written about them for years, DevOps has made its way, and I’m sure you are familiar with the whole break-down-the-silos thing as we have been hearing about during the last decade.

Yet silos still exist. Why?

Because there are others.

Others. They don’t know us. They don’t know our job. They don’t know what we need to do our job well. They don’t quite seem to even bother trying to understand us. They are selfish and self-centered. They sometimes want to force us do our job in a certain way that is unnatural to us. They don’t want to help us. They basically don’t understand us at all…I’m sure you are thinking of some particular others right now.

The very notion of others implies a conflict of some sort between them and us. But ask yourself : Are others the cause of the conflict or does the concept of others arise as a consequence of this conflict ?

My opinion is that there should be no others.

Others only exist because we choose to solve problems by accusing each other instead of working together…but this attitude does not solve any problem in the end of the day, and only breaks the team into silos :

  • You are a developer and feel frustrated because you don’t really understand the problems your code is supposed to solve : don’t blame the product owner for not understanding your job. Instead try to work together as a team a figure out a better way to communicate
  • You are a product owner and feel frustrated because you have to deal with new features that have been sold to clients but do not fit well into the product : don’t blame the sales people for not understanding the product. Instead try to work together as a team a figure out a better way to work together
  • You are an IT security engineer and feel frustrated because…
  • You are a project manager and feel frustrated because…

The message I am trying to convey here is basically we are others’ others. When I complain about others not letting me do my job well, or not understanding me, do I even try to understand them? Do I even bother asking what they need to do their job well? Now think about the people you designated as others a couple of paragraphs above…

This little rant is only a beginning. More will come with more concrete examples in the next couple of posts on the subject, but as always feel free to leave a comment below or share your opinions on this subject on twitter.

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