Reshape to your will, or play with strengths?

Last week, I attended a 3-hour session on wine. It wasn’t just wine tasting; the guy (only gave his first name, Alexis) also gave plenty of details on how wine is produced, etc.

He also explained the differences between wine-making in Europe (in general) with wine-making
in the New World (US, Latin America, South Africa, Australia, etc.). For him, it’s actually a philosophical difference.

  • In the New World, wine-makers are artists (almost) that consider that they can (and do) produce any kind of wine from any kind of soil. Preferably the kind that sells.
  • In Europe, from the concept of terroir derived the idea that the wine-maker should play by the strength of his environment and attempt to magnify the characteristics that are naturally present. If it doesn’t sell, well, too bad (I’m exaggerating a bit, here, of course).

Both attitudes have, of course, their own merits.

What does it have to do with software project management, you ask?

Well, here the idea (slightly far-fetched, I agree). Suppose that you are working in a multi-cultural project. Not with many different people in the same team, but rather with different teams in different countries. For example, our offshore colleagues are certainly more disciplined than we are (agreeing to work on Saturdays, for example); on the other hand, they are much less able to work without external help.

So, should one work with their strengths, or despite their weaknesses? A complex question that I will not try to answer in this column.

About Eric Lefevre-Ardant

Independent technical consultant.
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