May 232011

Some­how I missed the news about Google’s Pro­ject Oxy­gen earli­er this year. This was a large pro­ject that meas­ured what skills the most effect­ive man­agers at Google use, and the pit­falls poor man­agers fall into. As one might expect from Google, the res­ults are but­tressed by a ser­i­ous amount of data: over 10,000 answers about 100 vari­ables. If you work for any­one, or man­age any­one, it’s worth read­ing about, even if what you do isn’t in soft­ware.

What I found inter­est­ing was this quote, from

In the Google con­text, we’d always believed that to be a man­ager, par­tic­u­larly on the engin­eer­ing side, you need to be as deep or deep­er a tech­nic­al expert than the people who work for you,” Mr. Bock says. “It turns out that that’s abso­lutely the least import­ant thing. It’s import­ant, but pales in com­par­is­on. Much more import­ant is just mak­ing that con­nec­tion and being access­ible.”

It’s been recog­nised for some time in oth­er busi­nesses that the skills required to be a good man­ager are not neces­sar­ily the same as those needed to do good tech­nic­al work. I’m glad to see the data com­ing from Google to sup­port the notion that good soft­ware pro­ject man­agers do not have to be tech­nic­al enough to be lead developers (although they do need to have enough tech­nic­al skills to know what’s going on).

  One Response to “Manager Skills”

  1. I’m glad to see that someone’s put some data to back that up. The best soft­ware pro­ject man­agers I’ve met weren’t even pro­gram­mers (or not for long), but took an interest in the tech­no­logy that they were work­ing with, what it could do for them, the risks involved in using it and so forth.

    The people I’ve worked with who shouldn’t be pro­ject man­agers were people who were too inter­ested in the tech. They’d get car­ried away with the tech rather than the deliv­ery.

 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>