Top performers


  1. A top performer needs the flexibility to use the “sprinklings” each day that keep him or her sharp and motivated.
  2. Having to defend each sprinkling kills hope for a top performer.
  3. A top performer has demonstrated that their way works, so it only makes sense that instead of demanding a justification for each decision, we should be learning from their example.
  4. The trust (on a company’s part) involved in not requiring such defense is part of identifying someone as a top performer.
  5. The question is, am I in that group?


  1. Does this need for flexibility apply only to top performers?
  2. When we deny a developer the flexibility to do day-to-day “sprinklings” on their own initiative, are we keeping them from becoming a top performer?
  3. What are the challenges to an organization wishing to give flexibility to some but not others?
  4. If you give flexibility to all, how do you deal with the lower performers whom you cannot trust to use the flexibility wisely? For such people, to what extent does the tighter structure help them produce acceptably (in other words, to what extent is the tighter control having its intended effect in the cases where it’s seen as needed)?

(Updated 1/14/2008)


4 thoughts on “Top performers

  1. It may be true that a “top performer” is one who works flexibly even though the structure denies such freedom. This may not be universally true, but there are many who would definitely fit this category.

    5. Has anyone become a top performer without working flexibly?
    6. Has a new rigidity been imposed upon the organization as a result of growth? Would enforcing that rigidity when the organization was small have produced the growth that is now used to justify the rigidity?

  2. works flexibly even though the structure denies such freedom

    Wow, I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back and forth on that one. I struggle with whether I can do that in good conscience given that we should submit to our earthly authorities as to the Lord… !

  3. Well, that is the big question. It reminds of the situation between a husband and a wife. It is clear that the authority should be humble and listen to feedback, but it is also clear that the submitter should not defy the authority.

    It is certainly easier to only do what you are exactly told to do (at least, easier on your conscience). However, there is a great opportunity to improve if you are willing to make steps to do so. These don’t have to all fall within your 40 hours of “billed time” either.

    I can think of many examples of great tools written in the line of duty by such as Ken that have gone on to serve the company greatly. Who first wrote ARXML? Was that actually a task vetted and assigned by a Business Analyst? I doubt it.

    If a tool can make up for its build time in quality and future time savings, then I think it is worthwhile. Of course, I also think that any supervisor/manager should approve of such practices and be involved (and be excited about) them. Isn’t this what Six Sigma and continuous improvement is all about? Has anyone tried to make the case for Unit Testing using its theories?

  4. Pingback: “People stuff” | Our Craft

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