February 5, 2010

Management by Flying Around

Remember “Management By Wandering Around,” the somewhat old-fashioned notion that no amount of reports and formal presentations can substitute for getting out of your office and walking around? Great idea, but it may seem impractical when your employees are spread all over the world. These days teleconferencing, email, texting and IM often substitute for face-to-face discussions. And while we’re grateful for the added opportunity these technologies provide to stay in touch, our experience tells us that electronic connections only go so far in building lasting relationships. And business teams who have healthy relationships are more productive.

Managing Waverley software development teams located worldwide, I’ve learned the importance of MBFA – Management By Flying Around. Software development is complicated, difficult work.  Often there are unexpected problems and setbacks, so openness, honesty and trust among team members is critical. There’s an old adage that says that the three most important keys to retail success are location, location, location.  At Waverley we believe the three keys to outsourcing success are communication, communication, and communication.

I believe that if engineers and customers haven’t been face-to-face in the past six months, our relationship is probably set back to zero. Visits (alone, with our Silicon Valley management team, and with our clients) to our software engineers in their home offices creates goodwill. Flying our engineers to our clients helps build relationships. As we all listen to each other, air our concerns, share our solutions we create an atmosphere of transparency and accountability. And we create better solutions for our clients.