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A Sense of Ownership

· Agile Zone

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People have tried to get me involved as co-author of their book. But I didn’t want to. It was not my book.

Some have asked me to help organize their conference. But I didn’t do it. It was not my conference.

And I have always resisted coaching and consulting on other people’s projects. I didn’t care. They were not my projects.

It is true. I’m egocentric.

I care more about my work. About my team. And my business. My house. My children. I care somewhat less about yours.

Your Project, Not Mine

A friend of mine recently told me that his off-shore team was producing terrible results, and slowly too. When he traveled there to discuss the quality and productivity problems, he found out that the same people had their own little startup on the side, working on it in their spare time. And the product they were making as a startup was amazing. While the product they were making as off-shore employees was crap.

I think these people had an ownership problem.

They thought, “This is your project, but we only care about our project.”

Ownership First, Urgency Later

John Kotter introduced the concept of “a sense of urgency”. People will not change their behaviors if they don’t feel it is urgent.

But maybe we need something else first. Maybe “a sense of ownership” has to precede the sense of urgency. When people see a house on fire, most of them bring a camera, not a fire extinguisher. Unless it is their own house.

Therefore, my suggestion to my friend is to fire his off-shore team, and then hire their startup as a subcontractor. That should allow them to own what they make.

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Published at DZone with permission of Jurgen Appelo .

Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.

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