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Dotted Line Relationships Are Everywhere – Get Good at Them!


Dotted Line Relationships Are Everywhere – Get Good at Them!

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Andy Warren
Andy Warren
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Dotted Line Relationships Are Everywhere – Get Good at Them!

Andy
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SQLRNNR
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Dotted lines add a bit of complexity for certain. If the group at each end of the dotted line understands the objectives and the scope of that dotted line - I think it works well.

If a Project Manager, for instance, does not fully grasp the project or the resources available, it can become quite messy. The same holds true for anybody connected by a dotted line. Understanding of your realm of responsibility and overall goal of the team created by those dotted lines helps a lot. Good communication doesn't hurt either.



Jason AKA CirqueDeSQLeil
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BenWard
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I hate dotted lines. It often seems to me that there are more dotted ones than solid ones...

If you have requirements of another team, you should be raising a change/service request with that team's manager and allowing him/her to manage it entirely, or if there is a lot of work involved, the other manager can transfer staff to you as 'managed resources' for x days or weeks. These 'resources' then report directly to you for that period of time and get assigned back to their regular manager afterwards.

Otherwise you're constantly arguing over whose work is the most urgent and the developers end up trying to run multiple projects concurrently, get pushed from pillar to post and everything gets delivered late.

Ben

^ Thats me!


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call.copse
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Interesting point. My actual line manager actually rarely gives me any direct instruction. I would say our team has no hierarchy of 'command' as such and really does not need it. We simply discuss what needs doing (i.e client requirements) with whoever seems most qualified and do our best to get it done. It's flat as you like and I think the arrangement suits most devs - we all know we need to make money to survive and what we need to do to achieve that.
majorbloodnock
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I would almost go so far as to say that if you need to rely on a formal reporting structure to manage, you're probably not ready to manage. All the effective managers I've ever seen - both go getters and people people - have managed by moral authority and respect rather than hierarchy.

As such, I have no problem with the concept of dotted lines, since they always exist anyway. What I do have a problem with is abuse of position, whether it's formal or not, and that is what I believe makes for uncomfortable situations far more than having multiple bosses.

Semper in excretia, sumus solum profundum variat
Jayanth_Kurup
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Dotted lines are useful for the overall business but I feel often the guy at the lower end of the line does not get the required credit for the work he does. I have worked in such scenarios where after a while the smaller guy is taken for granted and his line manager is not given enough visibility at the end of year reviews.

The dotted line allows requester to use a resource without having to cater to the other aspects such as trainings and reviews etc which feels like a lack of accountability to me. Problem is , if you want to be an exceptional DBA you need to be able to manage this situation effectively i.e the onus is on you.

Jayanth Kurup
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Dotted lines represent the triumph of pragmatism over purism.

I loved it when I was a contractor - I was brought in to do a job, I did that job with reference to defined interfaces, I had no legacy stuff to support and no dotted lines to service.

Life as a permie is different: I have many stacked 'main' jobs to do, and I have a load of other stuff to do too. I multi-task, so my concentration has to be switched many times in a day, and as a result my 'main' job of the day gets less of my time continuity is difficult to maintain. Still enjoyable: responsive to changing priorities, but perhaps less efficient in output.
robin.jarvis
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I live in a dotty world! It is just what the doctor ordered, and that is no accident as I work in a hospital.

I am clinical information systems manager. I report to the matron of the department. My directions are set in discussion with the Clinical Director and the Clinical Head and my task set is prioritised and projects co-designed with the Consultant who is the 'Clinical Information Lead'. I liaise with the organisations IT Manager regarding overall IT strategy and integration of my mandate with his, and also with that of our 'IT infrastructure provider' and the medical equipment support 'provider'.

It works well from the IT user perspective. They get represented by their 'own' IT professional in the grand scheme of things while also getting all the departmental solutions and tweaks that they want according to their own priorities. I am also on hand to keep the users adept at using the usual Windows packages, solve local equipment and network failures and generally hold their hands.

I can also listen to them and help them to develop their ideas when they ask the inevitable 'can we just make this little change...?' or 'I am doing this bit of research and need...'. I can identify 'large' projects and move them up the dotted line and I can pretty accurately interpret 'symptoms' and delegate the problem solution to the right people.

Stimulating for me, good for my clinical colleagues, good for keeping the infrastructure contractor 'honest' and good for productivity and efficiency of the organisation.

Yes, it can be stressful but that is the management side of the job... no problems, nothing to manage, no stress!
jay-h
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"do you like dotted lines?" is almost a silly question because the real world and society in general is composed of them. Clean demarcation of communication and responsibility is an artifact, since our ancestors started working in tribes, subjective dotted lines were the norm. Rigidly structered systems tend to be brittle, they cannot respond as well to varying situations.

Fear of dotted lines is in part fear of responsibility (beacause rigid decision structures enable the precise location of blame), of making judgement calls on the fly that might not work out.

...

-- FORTRAN manual for Xerox Computers --
OCTom
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I have dotted lines but the departments represented by them pay for my time, productive or not. All of my time gets charged back. This means that if I get a request from a department, someone has already thought through if what they are requesting is necessary. Then, I ask them to follow it up with a formal request for tracking.
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