IT-specific Corporate Role Plays

Check if you are new to role plays.

Urged by some of my client corporates and 'value chain' stakeholders, I am sharing three typical situations I have specifically created for the software specific role plays. I suggest you try out these enactments at your organization - trust me, the value adds are immense: you'll get concrete inputs to help you chalk out highly effective developmental plans for your programmers, architects & project managers as also understand the human aspects of software development which are more deep-rooted than what most think.

Try these enactments at your place if you feel you can easily manage to set up a small team of role players from within your organization to play the different characters. This would work best for a start-up which is in the process of expanding its team. The language of the role play scripts has consciously been kept simple for faster and easier comprehension.

In case you need help, drop a line to (response is usually instant but kindly allow a lead time of one day if and when I am traveling on projects)

Situation one: Save the Project

The Terminator

You are an independent IT auditor working as a consultant for the Indian subsidiary of No Compromise Inc - a reputed MNC headquartered in the US. You have been specially flown down from the US as the India team head is not happy with the feel and functionality of one product website designed and developed by EverGreen Developers, a midsized firm based in Mumbai. There are a lot of issues with the new-look site. The pages take a long time to load, and there are too many broken links. One of the testers has found that there are issues with the site on Safari and Opera and the design is not optimized either. Navigation is not consistent from page to page. The company has almost decided to shift to another vendor but you wish to give EverGreen one last chance of defending their case and have therefore called their topmost marketing guy to your office. You have been asked to chair the meeting – you have no knowledge of how the site was designed and developed – so the challenge for you is to ask pointed questions about the entire solution environment (platforms, languages, databases, tools, utilities, design and development methods, delivery schedules etc) and finally make a recommendation whether the company should continue with EverGreen or dump them.

The Negotiator

You are the marketing head of EverGreen Developers, a mid-sized Mumbai-based web development company. You have deep technical knowledge of all systems, processes and solutions that your organization provides. No Compromise Inc is one of your biggest customers and you simply can’t afford to lose this MNC client. Your development team has messed up on quite a few deliveries and the No Compromise guys, upset with the output, have called for an emergency meeting. You have no idea of what went wrong but the CEO of your company wants you to go on the firm’s behalf to handle this crisis situation. You don’t have time to get a brief from the development team as you have to now rush for the emergency meeting. Your boss is confident that you will be successful in making the No Compromise guys restore their faith in your company. Your challenge is how you accomplish the mission in the given time and constraints.

Situation two: Hire amidst Fire

Cautious Commander

You are the team leader in a small IT firm called Sunrise Software. Lately, your firm has won many web development projects and you want to recruit more PHP developers in your team. You have called one fresher candidate today but want to make sure the candidate is really strong in PHP. Recently, you had recruited one irresponsible guy for the position who made a mess of a couple of deliveries. You had recruited him following a chat of ten minutes. You had to sack him and your boss was hugely upset with your irresponsible behavior. Now, you don’t want to take any chances and wish to thoroughly test this candidate’s knowledge on PHP and software fundamentals. The challenge is how best you can take the interview to make the right decision. The candidate is waiting for you in the lobby of your office.

Starry-eyed Soldier

You have recently cleared your computer engineering and now actively seeking a job with some reputed IT firm. You have been called by the technical head of a small firm called Sunrise Software for a PHP developer position. You feel you are quite strong in PHP and hence have decided to attend the interview. Your challenge is to clear the interview and seal the job. You have been told to remain seated in the lobby where the team leader of the web development group at Sunrise Software would meet you shortly.

Situation three: Judgement day

Supreme Court Judge

You are the project manager in a web development firm called Alpha Code. You are a very strict guy who can’t tolerate indiscipline. You hate people who don’t believe in making commitments. Today you are evaluating the performance of a programmer guy in one of the teams managed by you. His immediate boss has told you that he’s very irresponsible and unreliable. Lately, he’s been coming late to office and on a few occasions, he was found absent when he was needed most. You have asked one senior colleague from the programmer’s team to join you in the appraisal to ensure that your decision is not biased. By the way, this colleague is a good friend of the programmer and was his senior at college. You have heard from many people that the programmer guy (whom you are about to assess) is very innovative and full of ideas worth implementation but his immediate boss doesn’t think so. He has given a rather negative feedback about this guy. Today, you are going to judge it for yourself. The challenge is to do justice to your role as a project manager of a crucial team within the company.

High Court Judge

You are a team leader in a web development company called Alpha Code and you report to the project manager. You have to been asked to attend an appraisal session - along with your project manager – of a team member whom you know very well from college (you were his senior) and you both are very good friends. This guy is a very bright chap but careless and irresponsible lately. Therefore his image at office is that of an unreliable guy although his approach to work is very innovative. You have often told him about the need to become more disciplined but he doesn’t seem interested. This is primarily because his boss always cuts him short and doesn’t let him speak his mind. Many of his ideas are not even heard. As a result, he has become very moody bordering o rude. Lately, he has consistently reported late to office and his absenteeism is also pretty high. Today, you have been asked to give your frank opinion about him. The challenge is to make an honest, fair observation in the best interests of the organization.

The Accused

You are a senior developer in a company called Alpha Code. You are extremely interested in emerging technologies and wish to learn as many languages as possible. You also have deep interest in different programming techniques like Lean, Agile and XP. But you don’t like it when you have to work on tight deadlines. Your boss feels you are very laid back and you both often have heated arguments on day to day basis. This year, your performance has not been all that great and you have missed out on quite a few deadlines. You have also been reporting late to office these days and have missed office on some crucial occasions. But in many earlier projects, you had made a few valid points about better ways of planning, designing and delivering but you were not able to convince your boss about it. And every time you speak, he doesn’t even listen to what you say. You now believe you are a victim of office politics. Hence you have become even more careless and rude lately.

Today is a good chance to explain your side of the story. If you don’t do that today, your performance rating will suffer and you may not get a good salary hike or any performance bonus. Worse, you may be branded as a non-performer. So the challenge today is to justify your case – that you are a good programmer and can make a great contribution to the team if given the right opportunity.