I talked about the two most important cultures for a development organization, Goal Oriented and Innovation in my previous two posts. For a development organization to survive, it must satisfy the goals of the business it belongs to. It must align all its activities with the business goals and strive to achieve those goals. If the development organization would like to play a more important role in the business than just providing “commodity” technical services, it must continuously innovate in technologies and processes, in development process as well as the business processes.

But how can a development organization achieves its preset goals and how can it innovate? What’s the ultimate strength of a development organization? Not the thousands of computers it possessed and managed, not the technologies it embraced, not products or services it delivered, or the intellectual properties it possessed. I can be one hundred percent sure to say that the core competitive advantage a development organization has is its people. People are the most important resource that a development organization can draw upon to meet any ambitious goals it may have. Innovations are like springs, flowing freely to all directions. But, if we seek its origin, we will always find one or several highly educated, talented and engaged persons. Thus comes our third ideal culture:

Ideal Culture Number Three: Humanism

The meaning of “Humanism” from Webster is a doctrine, attitude, or way of life centered on human interests or values; especially : a philosophy that usually rejects supernaturalism and stresses an individual’s dignity and worth and capacity for self-realization through reason.

In wikipedia, “Humanism” is declared as a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives.

Putting in the context of the organizational culture of a development organization, Humanism has the following meanings:

  • Realize People are the most important asset of the development organization
  • Respect each individual as a human being with human dignity
  • Respect and welcome the diversity among individuals in terms of capacities, interests, values and cultures.
  • Strive to satisfy the increasing levels of human needs, from physiological to self-actualization.

One of the goals of a development organization is to replace manual, tedious and error-prone works with fast and cost-efficient automatic process carried out by machines like Computers. But we need to keep in mind that the ultimate goals and results are not replacing humans with machines. On the contrary, the goals are to free human from repetitive, tedious and labor intensive jobs and enable them to move on to more innovative and more rewarding jobs. Just like that, all the goals of development tasks are to make the life of other people, customers or colleagues, easier, happier and in general, better.

All the development tasks are done through a group of people. Although machines and tools are heavily used and important, it’s the people who drive the cold and thoughtless machines to achieve the meaningful goals. Sometimes, we are too focus on the tasks, the machines, the technologies and forget about the individual human beings behind the scenes. No computer can code its own program. No database can design its own architecture. No router can connect itself to the network. Behind all the tasks, there are humans making them happen.

Don’t be fooled by the titles, developers, testers, web designers, database administrators, system engineers…. They are not stereotypes. They are human beings just like you and me. They have families and personal life. After work, they are fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, brothers, cousins, etc. in their families. They have feelings. They want to be respected, appreciated, affirmed and recognized. They would like to have fun, be comfortable, relax and feel secure. They made human mistakes, like forgetting the passwords or mistype something. They have strength and weakness. They have talents and blind spots. To get the most out of them, treat them as human beings, not just “headcounts” or “hands”.

The more I studied the historical lectures of management, the more I realized unlocking the potential of people is the key to the success of an organization. This is especially true to development organization since it demands “intelligence-intensive” work instead of “labor-intensive” work. We are dealing with “knowledge workers“, as Peter Drucker pointed out 50 years ago, not manual workers any more. The more the organization attends to the human needs of the knowledge workers, the more it can expect to get out of them. In the other hand, as knowledge workers, we will gain our best achievements happily and cheerfully only when we work for an organization that cares us as human beings and satisfies our basic and advance desires.

In my first post, I mentioned that Cultures start with the Values and Goals and end up with Attitudes and Practices. The first three ideal cultures I talked, Goal Oriented, Innovation and Humanism, are the values and goals of a development organization. They are the underline principles. To achieve them, we need a set of practices, methods and policies to cultivate, realize and manifest those principles. I will continue to talk about those more practical ideal cultures in my future posts.

Do you agree or disagree my observation? I will love to see your comments!