Most of the time the individuals that we interact with during engagements are intelligent, intellectually curious, and open to suggestions for improving their service offering’s scalability and availability. On rare occasions, however, we run into an individual who either argues just for the sake of arguing or thinks he/she can’t learn anything from anyone. While these people might be brilliant they are likely going to ultimately fail and in doing so negatively impact the company. A rule to live by is that an architecture designed by one person is much poorer than one designed by a diverse group of individuals with different skill sets. This is one of the driving principles behind the JAD and ARB.
This is not to say that all conflict is bad. As Marty mentioned in his post on Team Conflict, cognitive conflict is desired. It is the affective conflict that is not good for the team. An easy way to think about the difference between cognitive (good) and affective (bad) is that arguing over “what” to do is good, arguing over “who” should do it (territorial) or “how” it should be done (micromanagement) can be harmful if not carefully kept in check. Once an someone has been assigned as the “R” (see Chapter 2 in The Art of Scalability) let them own the project.
We’ve posted a lot on our blog about hiring A players, tending your team like a garden, and building high performance teams. Allowing someone who displays an attitude of arrogance and superiority in a leadership position is more than just annoying but harmful to the team. Junior engineers will not push back on this person’s decisions for fear of humiliation, younger leaders are being taught to act this way in order to succeed, and the experiential chasm between this person and other executives is only widening. No matter how brilliant this person is, they are causing more problems than they are solving. Take steps today to remove them from the organization as quickly as possible.