Crew Composition vs Detailed Description of Processes

January 4, 2019

There is something you have probably seen many times, but never really thought of —

— in the control room of a famous and critically important international institution there are no individual passwords. And the screens are not logged out when the operator moves away. The controls are vigorous and at the door. Once you are in, you are trusted. In many ways *)

This would freak out many companies, where the employees are from softly (buy drinks/cake) to severely punished for leaving workstations unlocked when moving away.

But it highlights a very interesting principle, which I recently had to outline, while advising a major international corporation, which takes great price in processes, on their IT QA Framework —

— the Crew Composition is one of the most important components of IT Quality and is far more important than the Detailed Description of Processes (and their enforcement).

Personal qualities such as —

  • IQ
  • Knowledge and Auto-Didactical Affinity
  • Responsibility

And Crew Dynamics and Self-Organisation such as —

  • self-policing (famously used and quoted by Steve Jobs at Apple)

are much more important than Volumes of Written Rules.

This is Agile/Lean taken even further. Not only Agile Software Development, but Agile Crew Composition and Development. Omar Sharif famously said “democracy starts w/ education“. There is nothing like well chosen and balanced, intelligent, self-learning and responsible crew.


*) From another source I know that for the European Space Agency in Darmstadt work many French and Spanish. Which means wine. When a satellite is shot up, it is a crew of four who do it. And a bottle of wine. But only three of them drink. The fourth shoots the satellite.


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