Episode transcript The transcript is generated automatically by Podscribe.
Ricardo: Hello, everyone. Welcome to the Five Minutes Podcast. Today I like to talk about The Paranoia of Control and how this can kill your project. You know, many times we hear of people with two extreme positions and people would ask: Ricardo, what is your opinion? So, on one side, they are those who believe that you know, a post-it note is a bureaucracy, that, you know, someone taking notes in a notepad, bureaucracy, you know, every single day, you know, they hate paper, they hate everything.
And they think that everything you take note, or you try to create a to-do list or something like that, its bureaucracy is something that must be stopped. On the other side, you have the crazy micromanagers, those who spend 90% of the time of a meeting just making the notes of the meeting. And for those who spent 95% planning and 5% doing the real work. So if you see these two extremes, you may ask me, Ricardo, what is the best approach?
And I want to start by saying that the two approaches that I just shared with you, are awful. They are very bad for the opposite reasons, because one, you do not have any kind of control because you believe that control is bureaucracy. And then is just a go horse, is just chaos. It, you know, it's a completely chaotic environment, and as far as I know, I never saw a successful deliverable in the middle of the chaos.
Okay. Maybe you have an, you know, someone that they did that, but history does not show very good results on that. And on the other side of the micromanagers, just destroy more of the team. They slow down on every single process because everything is so controlled that, you know, if people breathe, if people cough or you take notes and at the end, you have this huge amount of notes and no decision and just paper on the top of paper.
So, the result, if you want it to be effective, it must be something between the two sites. And I know that you would love that I would say, oh, take the go horse approach, add to the micromanager, divided by two, and find a mean and use that. And this is not true because the first factor that will drive your decision towards more or less controlled is the culture of your organization, the maturity of the team, and the type of effort you are doing.
So let me give some examples. If you have a senior team, not only technically senior, but with a strong maturity with strong independence, they know what is their responsibility, they know what they should do. In this case, you need to control, reduce sharply, because you don't need to create a to-do list saying what you will do now, in 10 minutes, 20 minutes, half an hour. Right, because these people, they know what you should be done?
What do you do? You control some boundaries of the work they need to do. And they decide how they will do what will be the workflow, or if they will use Microsoft Excel to manage it or post-it notes or their own memory to do that. And it's not up to you to control that, I would say that day to day work. And this is very common, for example, when we use the agile approach, because one of the requirements, and I said this in previous podcasts, is when you have an independent and mature team, you don't need to micromanage them.
So if you are towards this case, then you don't need to create thousands of mechanisms of control to make sure that our work is done. However, if you are working in a large complex project with a huge amount of interdependent teams, teams with more maturity, last maturity teams that are more junior or teams that are less motivated, or teams that to compose for external parties and different groups, stakeholder groups, then you need to increase because it's not just saying, oh, you go to a thousand workers and say, oh, now just build this road, and when these sprint of this 500 meters or a half a mile off the road is ready and we'll come back to me.
It does not work like that, you need to have a far more precise control because you need to direct this. And I think that one of the best examples that I want to give to you, it's let's imagine you are raising a child, okay? Raising a child. So when the child is very young, what do you need to do, what kind of behavior or controlling behavior you must do to be a good parent, a decent parent.
You need to control, right? You need to control time to eat, time to change diapers, time to have a bath, time to sleep, time to wake up right? You have this control, it's like 24 times seven controlling. As the child grows, what you should do, you should reduce the levels of control, at some point the child will be able to take a shower by himself or by herself, right? And if it doesn't make too much sense for you, if you're raising a child that has 17 years old, and I say, did you take a shower today?
Okay? Right. It's not reasonable in normal conditions. Why? Because it's fully expected that someone at the age of 17 is I would say, mentally prepared than developed enough to know when it's time to take a shower. So this is exactly what we need. So you need to give the those of control based on the type of resources you are managing and the maturity of these resources.
The second piece is about the scope of the work. If the work is very complex with a lot of interdependence pieces, you should control it more. If the work is something new, but something that the team is, I would say, it's an incremental evolution, then you need to control less. And this is the dynamic that ranges from this chaotic environment to this micromanaging environment, at the end, you need to have the right level of control to solve your problem. So there is no book that will say I do A or B and this is definitive, because there is no definitive solution when you are handling people and you are handling projects.
I hope you enjoy this podcast and see you next week with another Five Minutes Podcast.