Hey, you got your People in my Process…

Design better approaches to getting things done by considering how people need to work.

Computer programmers like me are experts at communicating with machines, plying them to do our will. I’m not going to go so far as to say that as a result none of us have social skills. That would be ridiculous. I have seen, however, many a programmer that seems to understand his computer better than his co-workers. After all, he spends every day writing logic loops and command instructions for highly predictable machines to interpret. After a while, the allure of all that predictability and logic can be hard to beat. People have all these messy feelings and hidden agendas and sensitivities and illogical behavior and stuff.

Yuck.

People in My Process 200x300
I’m a people person. WHAT DON’T YOU GET ABOUT THAT?!

I may be a programmer at heart, but the 10 years of my career before creating R. Alliance with Chris were spent as a manager and executive. I’ve managed teams of technicians and had to interact with business people who have needs and are looking for technology to help them. Throughout all that time I learned to embrace the people aspect of what I do.

After all, without people to need it, build it, and use it, cool ground-breaking technology just doesn’t happen.

When Chris and I started talking about what we wanted our business to be we quickly settled on: “a partnership between People (human) and Process (logic)”. Since Chris has a background in Change Management, Training, and Executive Coaching, I thought that meant that she would finally be the piece of the puzzle that developers have long needed. That is: someone to help us communicate with the users to help them understand why process is important, how to think logically, and what, exactly, they should and shouldn’t expect from the systems we (the nerds) build for them.

In some ways this IS exactly what Chris and other people in her field do. But I quickly discovered that it goes both ways. Someone needs to represent those poor users. The ones who get tired of technical people focusing on the shiny new programming language that the new system is built in. The ones that are more concerned with whether or not the software will do what they need it to do – in a way that works for them. In the months we spent developing our business model and refining our services, what I learned from Chris is that the benefit of what we’ve created is way deeper than I had originally expected.

What I discovered is that People are the proverbial peanut butter in the dark chocolate of Process.

When Chris and I look back on the successes and failures we’ve seen in our careers, the undeniable common thread is that either process takes a back burner to what people need, or people’s needs are discarded in favor of rigid process.

R. Alliance is all about making sure that never happens. We preach process, as long as it’s designed to help people work better and be happier. We remind ourselves and our clients that people drive their project, but without process, their success working together is hard won.

Gone are the days of long-haired hippy math freaks working feverishly on computers connected by dial-up modems in basement server rooms, fueled by cases of Jolt cola and pizza slid under the door. The Internet bubble of the late 90’s, which led to an inflated sense of worth for technical professionals and drove non-technies to let us do whatever we wanted unabated and unchecked – that bubble burst a long time ago.

And I say good riddance.

Technology has become so pervasive in our lives today that people don’t think they can live without it. It’s high time that start to remember that technology is nothing without people that build it and use it.


Have we got you thinking about how your People and Process are working together?  Capture those Thoughts at www.MeetMaple.com

Originally published on August 11, 2011

Written by Scott

Scott Waletzko built Maple with his bare hands, and is the managing partner responsible for all things technical at R. Alliance.

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