startups and power structures

In this context, a power structure is a constraint through which work must flow, that is visible to management, that provides an objective measure of work completeness and/or quality.  It frequently, but not always, occurs at the boundaries of group responsibility.

It’s only when the work becomes both tedious and stressful, the power structures come in to play.

You won’t notice if your power structures are proper until it’s too late.

If you do not actively manage power structures, they will be managed by primal social forces, which are generally inimical, in the west in particular, to business interests.  Those primary social forces become more intense the more people are placed within a social domain.

Some observations:

  1. IT still exists as a discipline, and it cannot be treated with any less scrutiny than engineering in terms of recruiting.  Given the power held by IT, it should be an early, and core, company hire, and it should be someone with unshakable morals, and commitment to service.IT is still an engineering discipline, and creativity is critical for IT, despite what some might believe.  But if you have to choose, choose morals and humility over intellect for your core IT hires.
  2. I don’t like the word devOps.  But whatever you call your systems layer, it needs to be dealt with early, and have a power structure equal in stature to software development and IT.
  3. Software developers need to think for long periods of time without interruption, most of the time.  They are a particular kind of engineer, like IT, and like devOps.
  4. It probably makes the most sense to group people by speciality, unless you need to control a particular power structure by gating work at a group boundary.
  5. If you don’t control your organization, it will control you.  It’s all fun and games until the pressure is on, and the work isn’t fun any more.

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