Company re-organizations, which seem to happen every few months, focus primarily on financial efficiency, usually at the cost of context to their staff.  Shortening the distance to context may very well cost more, but reducing this distance will create a simpler environment that costs less to maintain and grow.

So what do I mean by 'distance to context'?
Why is it taking so long to get from A to C?

People take pride in their work.  We need to assume that everyone is doing the best they can given the situation they are in.  The tester that is scared to automate and creates fragile, manual tests that are a rats nest of test plans is not doing this because they want to create complexities.  They are doing the best they can in the environment they are in.  They are separated from context - in this example, outside learning potentially.

The operations person who creates a library of deployment scripts that are awesome...and fragile (they break for all upgrades) not doing this to be evil.  They are doing the best they can to automate their environment to respond to increased workloads.  But they lacked the context of how this work affected other items outside their context - in this scenario the are removed from product stability context.

The tester in the first example could be 3 contexts away from resolution; (1) they lack the training, (2) they don't control what training they can take, (3) they lack the domain knowledge to apply the testing properly.  Even the best developer might also be multiple contexts away from the consumer (manager, business analyst, product owner...consumer) leading to poor application decisions.

What happens as this distance from context expands?

  • Loss of information fidelity
  • Loss of engagement
  • Lack of empowerment - 'but you are a lead now'...

There are two things about this metaphor that I like.  First, distance is easier to grasp, for me at least.  Second, this concept of distance from context is non-technical and applies equally well to personal life.

What do you think?  Does this resonate with you?  What else happens as we grow the distance from context?