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Yegor Bugayenko
6 June 2017

Gluten-Free Management Recipes

We live in the era of organic food, eco-friendly toilets, zero-emission cars, and harassment-free offices. Our management practices have to keep up—they must be zero-stress, conflict-free, and idiot-friendly. If you’re still stuck in the old carrot-and-stick, mediocrity-intolerant, primitive mentality, these recipes will open your eyes.

Be Positive. You must remember that keeping people happy is more important than their results, effectiveness and productivity. As an organic manager you must never offend your team with any negativity, finger-pointing, or honesty. You must think positively and always find a balance somewhere between “you guys are good” and “you’re just fantastic.” You must be their full-hearted clown cheerleader! Truth hurts and modern management is not about hurting people, it’s about making them happy. You must be a permanent source of good news, funny stories, and smiles, shielding your slaves people from the reality and its threats.

Be Politically Correct. How many latinx are in your team? What about gays and transsexuals? You’re not sure? That’s wrong. You have to count. You don’t know how to segregate bi-sexuals from “normal” people and black females from white males? Well, do the research, there must be some “mischling tests” you could do. You have to learn how to count and pay attention to the numbers. Uber and others already do. Diversity, equality, and tolerance: these metrics are quickly replacing outdated performance and productivity appraisals.

Don’t Be Reward-Focused. Trotsky said in 1937 that people would eventually work not out of greed or poverty, but because they just enjoy it. He would be happy to see that his prophesy finally came true: programmers don’t work for money any more. They work for challenge, respect, curiosity, recognition, cooperation, and free beer on Fridays. As a modern eco-manager you must stop humiliating them with old-fashioned dollar bills and start inspiring them with these intrinsic rewards and free cookies. You will save some money too.

Be Equal. Holacracy is quickly replacing military-style management hierarchies, which proved to be depressing and hurtful to human feelings. Modern managers don’t even like to be called “managers.” Instead, they demand we call them ambassadors, curators, cheerleaders, and catalysts. You must be very creative in hiding your actual career ladder position, in order not to irritate and hurt your team. Of course, you will still use fear and guilt to keep your slaves under control, but new eco-titles will help you keep them less aware of what’s going on.

Be a Leader. Traditional project management with its critical path method, contingency reserves, cause-and-effect diagrams, work breakdown structures, policies, procedures, and plans, is dead. Agile, Scrum, Kanban, and others, are dancing on its grave, with motivational speeches, burndown rates, sprints, standups, and smoothies. The world doesn’t need managers anymore, it needs leaders. And you must be one. PMBOK and RUP on your bookshelf must be replaced with Elon Musk and Peter Thiel biographies.

Be a Committer. Not a Git committer, obviously—that’s for junior programmers. You have to commit yourself to the project, just like Tim Cook committed to MacBooks. Technically, this means: staying in the office till late, taking no vacations, wearing a branded t-shirt, never discussing a salary or any money at all, and being a proud patriot, no matter how ugly the product is. In other words, being a good slave and showing your team a good example. Don’t worry about the future, when projects fail good committers just commit suicide themselves to new projects.

Be a Friend. Explicit and non-ambiguous work orders are not popular any more—they create tension and destroy team morale. Guilt-driven management is much more subtle and elegant: you turn your subordinates into a family and then say: “I count on you as a friend.” Who can refuse a friend? And not even a friend, but a mom. This is who they will associate you with when the guilt kicks in—with their mothers. They won’t disobey, won’t quit, and will never ask for more money.

Be Responsible. In the brick-and-mortar management era responsibility was measurable by what you earn if you succeed and how you suffer if you fail. Luckily, the world has recently learned that this was a mistake we’d been making for a hundreds years. We don’t suffer any more. Being responsible now means something completely different. We wear stickers on our MacBooks, we fall in love with “extremely talented people,” we participate, engage, celebrate, and champion excellence. And, of course, now it is always “We” instead of “I”: “We are responsible,” “It is our project,” “We can,” “Our goal is to do it together!” Of course, when the project fails you find a new one, with a bigger salary and a new group of extremely talented people, and become very responsible again. Nice, huh?

Be Democratic (added on 19-Oct-2020). If in doubt, always call a meeting and ask everybody to vote. This is the only right way today to make technical decisions without offending anyone. Our civilization is built on democratic principles, why software projects can’t utilize the same idea, right?

A good manager, first of all, must be ...

— Yegor Bugayenko (@yegor256) July 28, 2019