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Makers and managers

Paul Graham famously wrote about Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule, describing two kinds of people.

Managers have their day divided up into hour-long blocks by their calendar, and figuring out when to do something is as simple as putting it in an available slot.

Makers need longer blocks, often 3+ hours, to produce something meaningful, and a meeting can put out their whole day.

At Ritza, we have the principle "We are crafters, not overseers". This means that even people doing manager-type work are also makers, so they do not forget about the importance of unterrupted time.

Other maker/manager conflicts

There are other conflicts between makers and managers. Makers want to make stuff, and often find it tedious or pointless to report on what they are making. Makers don't want to update tickets, track their time or output, or give status reports.

Managers want to get an overview across different people and projects, so having a summarized view of "work in progress" and reports on historical progress is useful.

Because of the traditional power dynamic between makers and managers, it's common for managers to ask makers to spend their time updating Trello (or even Jira!). It's very uncommon for makers to ask managers to write a paragraph or piece of code for them.

In general, managers should be aware of this imbalance. If something is needed mainly for the manager's benefit, the manager should usually be the one putting in the effort. This often involves doing work that managers believe is "beneath" them: spending a few hours updating tasks, metrics, etc. Work that is time consuming but not difficult.

Managers should actively consider whether something that "needs to be done" is needed for the maker or for the manager. Because of the default imbalance, managers should actively seek to support makers with "maker problems", while shielding them from "manager problems".

The cobra effect

A good side effect of this reversal in "who helps whom", is that it can avoid the cobra effect. Measuring things is important, but when measurements become goals, they stop being good measurements. See Goodhart's law and the cobra effect.

By moving the onus of measurement onto managers, makers can be left to make without feeling like they need to "game the system". Managers can use the insights from measuring to improve processes.