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Increasing output by avoiding conflict of objectives

Alex Christie

5 November 2008

Years ago I
read an article, in Reader’s Digest, about how two workmates started learning tennis. And one of
them almost always won. The winner (author of that article) pointed out his
winning was not because of any better skills but because of his clarity of
objective “to win”. 

Not that his
workmate did not want to win, however there was a conflict of objectives in his
mind, which kept him from his best winning performance. The ones I still
remember are: 

Wanting to look like a powerful player influenced
his game and he would run and jump on the court even when he didn’t need to.
Tiring soon enough he was not able to perform at his best later in the matches. 

Wanting to attract opposite sex around them
influenced his game as while playing he would still make sure that his face
expressions, carrying over himself etc. were appealing enough, affecting his
movements and the game negatively from the point of view of winning. 

The hidden objectives conflicted with his
main objective of winning the game and had enough influence on him to keep him
from victory most of the times. He was never able to perform as a unity. 

I never
forgot this piece of wisdom. 

So how this can be important for a company? 

Working as a
developer over the years I have seen that the technical team/individuals
sometimes run into a conflict of objectives with organizational objectives
without even knowing. 

A
pre-conception that a good developer surmounts
difficulties and solves complex problems
might lead to unnecessary difficulties
and complexities in the architecture which are then “won over”. Many a time
simplicity could have worked better where complexities creep in. 

A feeling that my performance has to
be better than others
might lead to code that is difficult to understand, is not
properly commented, documented and explained. So when the problem arises only
the ‘star’ developer can solve it. From the point of view of an organization, code
should be simple for anybody to understand reducing the need of ‘star’ developer.

Tech team or any other department
of the company need to merge their objectives with the company objectives. A
single minded approach towards company objectives (e.g. increase share holder’s
wealth) is what everybody should aim for and not letting hidden demons creep in
creating a conflict of objectives that keep the company from best performance.

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