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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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Some days I love management. These days are not frequent, yet they are often enough to, by themselves, motivate me to stay in management.

Most days, however, management sucks. It’s an endless stream of not enough time and too much to do. De facto ownership, responsibility, and accountability. Too many meetings. No time in the trenches. Not able to listen to what people are saying. Not able to sit back and think.

Take a company full of engineers. A company that promotes from within, engineers become managers. Maybe it’s an organizational necessity, maybe an engineer wants to accomplish things bigger than they can by themselves. Maybe it’s a team of rockstars, but somebody has to do it. Details don’t really matter. I can’t imagine that most people in the bottom tier or two or management are that happy with the situation, or that they want to manage 100% of the time.

Enter round-robin management. Each week, somebody from the team takes on the management duties. They do all the meetings, they downflow to the rest of the group, and they upflow to the people that want upflow. Next week? Somebody different.

There’s an obvious downside: The groups that interact with the round-robin group will hate it. Who do they go to with issues? Who do they call when deadlines are slipping? Who is going to get in touch with them about their critical issue right now? None of these people are going to want to look up some web page to figure out who’s on first for your group.

There are some other downsides; one that came to mind was a bit of an internal downside. No one person can really set strategy or tactics by themself; the constant flux would kill this plan. I think this is an unintended upside, though: The group needs a consensus strategic and tactical plan that they all work towards, so there’s more buy-in, unity, and discussion. Nobody gets surprised or causes surprises to the rest of the group, and if they do they get burned.

I doubt it would actually work, but I’d love to bury myself in nothing but individual responsibility for a few weeks.