Thursday, June 22, 2006

Sugaring the Pill

The only time you get to deliver genuine good news is when:
  • You first arrive - when you can announce how good it is to have the opportunity to work with the company
  • When you brag of case studies you had nothing to do with the success of
  • When the team somehow manages to evade your fettling and brings a result in
  • When you announce that you're leaving
The latter of these should not happen. Yet how can you avoid being kicked out if the majority of the news you will deliver will have to be either bad news. The answer lie in spin and sugaring the pill. Spin is how to convert a failure into optimism about other opportunities. However, the canny management team will soon notice if you are not telling them about the self-evident failures happening around them. They want to respect you more for having you deliver them bad news in a way that they can spin for themselves.

A Spoonful of Sugar
Agile is all about delivering bad medicine, so Mary Poppins's edict that "a spoonful of sugar is all it takes to change bread and water into tea and cakes" is your friend. Here is how to deliver the bad news:
  • Sigh
  • Look the manager dead in the eye, accusingly
  • Explain exactly what has gone wrong
  • Explain that this is normal
  • Explain that the team don't seem committed to solving the problem
  • Explain where the process is likely to go at the moment to address this issue
  • Then pick on a random achievement within the team and explain it in detail, suggesting that such a small thing's success will be infectious and spread to all areas
  • Confuse the management with graphs, diagrams, japanese, and detail surrounding the future
  • Criticise the past using your innaccurate view of what used to happen
  • Suggest that the past is no longer happening - this is both a truism and also the result of your interference with all process; the success of the past is definitely lost forever
Leave appropriate titles of reference books which the management will be too busy to read, and they will think you've improved their company, even though you've simply stopped production.