About management features in space research of the USSR or “Back to the Future”

    Once in the Moscow branch of PMI, given my specific experience, they asked me to talk about the features of management in the USSR. And I have such an experience. 20 years of software development at MCC and the same number at commercial companies.

    Here are the theses of this story about what good I learned at the socialist space research institute, and what greatly helped me in capitalist software development. Suddenly, it will come in handy for someone else.

    I will try to be brief, so I will only talk about the main thing.


    Ronald Reagan said: "Surround yourself with the best people you can find, hand over power to them and don’t interfere with them."

    Here are the main qualities that distinguish the best employees:
    • Focus on the problem.
    • Creativity and independence.
    • Acceptance of oneself and others, a sense of community with others.
    • Sincerity, simplicity, naturalness, philosophical benevolent humor.
    • Cultural Resistance.


    Different works require a different form of organization of labor collectives. Quite different processes, control methods and organization are required when kayaking teams compete in a quiet rowing canal and when rafting in uncharted mountainous rapids.

    When external conditions are well known and stable, when production operations are well studied and repeatedly tested, the functions of performers are defined and constant, there is no room for self-organizing teams, they can only bring failures into a well-functioning mechanism. In this case, the basis of efficiency is narrow specialization and enhancement of competence. If the tram driver begins to look for new ways, wait for trouble.

    Teams are needed where a new product is being developed, the external conditions and requirements for which are constantly changing, where the technologies used are used for the first time, where new opportunities are constantly being searched, intellectual efforts and creativity.

    A team is:
    • Clarity of shared values ​​and goals.
    • Trust, mutual control, mutual assistance and interchangeability.
    • Collective responsibility for labor results.
    • All-round development and use of individual and group potentials.


    Stephen R. Covey wrote, “High-performance management in the absence of effective leadership is like streamlining the arrangement of chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic.” No management success compensates for leadership failure. [...] Leadership is the highest manifestation of management, it is the creation of perspectives for people and the release of their potential. ”

    Here are the necessary skills for an effective leader:
    • Vision goals and strategies for achieving them.
    • In-depth analysis of problems and the search for new opportunities.
    • Focus on success.
    • Sincerity and openness in communication.
    • The ability to create a creative atmosphere.
    • Tolerance, the ability to accept people as they are.
    • The desire to identify and realize the individual capabilities of each.
    • The ability to actively "provide", "get", "knock out", etc.


    The challenge for leaders is to create new leaders. Therefore it is necessary:
    • Take a life position.
    • Offer not work, but opportunities.
    • Special courses, basic departments, industrial practice.
    • Mentoring and knowledge transfer.
    • Career planning.

    Good luck!

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