upside down triangles

Jun 24, 07

since i’ve had it in mind to write this for so long, i will at least write something, and maybe someday i’ll come back and clean it up. 😛

i was talking to a friend of mine quite some time back about what i call the ‘triangle theory’ of resource management at most companies. the idea is that most companies distributed resources in a triangular fashion. the top (narrow) part of the triangle is where the smallest amount of resources go. the top part also is where the most skilled people reside and is represented by the small area taken up by the skilled people. the bottom is much fatter and is where there are ultimately more resources. there are a lot more people there. the unskilled people. perhaps, i should say less skilled or just ‘skilled people in training’ 😀

the reasons this works well as a visual is that when you have a triangle, it actually shows that your top tier only has room for so much. a very small amount. so as your workers improve and start working towards the top of the triangle, eventually, there isn’t enough room and they must either be pushed out of the triangle all together (leave/fired/whatever) or they must push someone else out.

my take is that you should utilize what i have termed the ‘upside triangle method’ to distribute resources. instead of investing money in that way (ultimately, less money in more skilled people) turn the triangle over. invest the majority of money in the highly skilled people. allow them to work collaboratively and have plenty of room at the top. minimize the people with very little skill and allow plenty of room for them to grow. this also gives the less skilled people more role models and allows them to grow even faster.

so instead of this

1 super senior - 3 senior - 6 mid level - 12 jr

100 - 240 - 360 - 600

invest in something like

6 super senior - 4 senior - 2 mid level - 1 jr

600 - 320 - 120 - 50

i’m using rough figures and ratios here, but let’s say the numbers are thousands. so super senior are getting 100k, senior are getting 80k, mid level are getting 60k and junior are getting 50k. these numbers, in my opinion, are not high enough to reflect the current IT market, but let’s say the ratio is close. if you add these up, you can see you save like 300k just by going to the upside triangle model. in addition, you have almost half the staff. this is awesome! for some reason, most managers associated headcount with success rather than actual results. it’s better in reality to get more done with less always. if you don’t realize that, you are not doing your job correctly and are practicing the “Get Me Promoted Methodology” (GMPM) rather than a results driven approach.

using less people generally leads to less misunderstandings, a more clean solution, and communication overhead in the group (especially a size difference like this) drops quite a bit.

well, that’s all for now. i want to really clean this up sometime and put some pictures in here etc from the whiteboard, but it’s been hanging out in my ‘go blog about this’ queue for a couple/few months now so it’s time to put it out there at least. then i can revisit it. 😀