Heroes and Risk

Heroes are great. They often form the backbone of the team. They wade into fixing problems at any time of the day or night. They often are the only people who know the nitty gritty details of how a system work.

They are also a significant risk to the project simply because the do so much and know so much.

When a hero leaves a system they often leave a big hole that is hard to fill.

So what is the main risk associated with a hero? The risk is that they leave and the system struggles to recover the lost knowledge and experience.

This can be for a number of reasons.

  • The hero becomes ill.
  • The hero decides to leave.
  • The hero meets a partner who does not like the way work dominates their life.

The key thing about a hero is that they are not the problem. They are a symptom of the problem. The real problem is likely to be…

  • A culture that rewards heroic behaviour rather than discourages it.
  • As culture that rewards individual efforts rather than team efforts.
  • A system that creates lots of opportunities for heroism.
  • An understaffed department (The understaffed department may have lots of staff but only a few experts who know the system).

The Dragon Slayer only exists because there are Dragons. Without Dragons, the Dragon Slayer is simply a guy in a silly costume. They will soon stop wearing the armour and carrying the sword when there are no more Dragons.

About theitriskmanager

Currently an “engineering performance coach” because “transformation” and “Agile” are now toxic. In the past, “Transformation lead”, “Agile Coach”, “Programme Manager”, “Project Manager”, “Business Analyst”, and “Developer”. Did some stuff with the Agile Community. Put the “Given” into “Given-When-Then”. Discovered “Real Options” View all posts by theitriskmanager

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