What Other Kind of Structural Approaches Have You Seen?

Some organizations try to structure the Development Manager role by function. So, for example, if you have developers, they report up a development tree, QA up the QA tree, operations up the operations tree. For some organizations this is less of an impact to put in place because it already basically exists. The pros of this approach is that the Development Manager might have a better handle how to develop the skills in a particular discipline. The downside of this trade-off is that often the structure leads to a non-local Development Manager.

Some organizations take this to the next level. They have the Development Manager “tree” report to some time top level manager independent of program. This approach can be useful for organizations that need to signal a radical change (“no, we are serious, Product Owners are not also supervisors”) and / or establish the role (“we are going to have a number of Development Managers and need some degree of consistency”). Often this approach is set up initially with a view of moving to the more “Program” approach over time. Other times the approach stays and the organization becomes “talent management”.

Some organizations (e.g. Netflix) do a very different approach. They basically say to people “your career is your issue” to the point where they expect people to interview for jobs outside of their organization. The thinking here is not that their people are not valuable, but rather they treat their people like a professional sports team trying to figure out what they will need in 6 months down the road, and then working to ensure that future can be supported by the people they have. In this context some people are still needed; some people will need to be brought in to fill a skills gap; and some people will no longer have a role in the organization. In these situations, the Development Manager role will be more of an recruiting and planning role. While it is an interesting model, most large organizations with significant history are unable to put this kind of structure in place in the short term.

Some organizations don't make any changes. They typically believe or are in a situation where the problems raised above (lack of safety to raise issues, reward / ranking systems) are not an issue in their case. In a few cases this is true …

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