Are you accountable? Someone has to be. Work must get done. Software must be delivered. All the supporting artifacts that go into building great software must be created and maintained.
We all know that, right? But are you accountable? Is your work clearly defined? Do you know precisely what you have to do? Do you have a deadline to meet? Once you finish, do you know where to deliver the work output? Are you fully aware of the criteria for being “done”?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, your project is in trouble. In fact, your employment status may also be in trouble.
What’s the single most important trait in a good project manager? She holds people accountable. Say what you do and do what you say! It doesn’t have to be stressful. Deadlines don’t have to be tight. You simply need to know what needs to be done, when it needs to be completed, and deliver on time. A great project manager will hold you accountable.
Miss deadlines too often or repeatedly deliver incomplete artifacts and your time on her project will be limited.
Of course, Scrum teams don’t have project managers. They have Scrum Masters. Great Scrum teams self-organize with the guidance of a great Scrum Master. The entire team, including the Scrum Master, needs to be accountable. If anyone on the team drops the ball, misses deadlines or just gets sloppy, the Scrum Master has to focus attention on the problem and get the team to step it up.
Individuals are accountable for tasks and stories. Teams are accountable for sprints and releases. Scrum Masters are accountable for everything.
We should all welcome clearly defined activities. In fact, if someone is holding you accountable for something without specifying the delivery criteria, that person is doing a sloppy job. Hold him accountable! Make your manager, supervisor, project manager or Scrum Master clearly define what he wants and when he wants it. If he can’t do that, he cannot hold you accountable.
Don’t Go Too Far
By the way, none of this implies micromanagement. Establishing clear goals and deliverables is a good thing. Telling people how to do their jobs and looking over their shoulders is crossing the line. We want to be accountable, not leashed.
Accountability is not about identifying someone to blame or having one neck to strangle. It’s about delivering great software in a structured and reliable manner. Pick whatever approach to software development that works for your team and your company. Just remember that if I buy or use your software, I will hold you accountable.