There's More Than One Way To Do It

How to prevent dispute in IT companies

Common problems

Preface: quarrels tend to occur in IT companies

Working in an IT company, you may occasionally encounter quarrels. We often hear stories of co-founders leaving a start-up company due to a dispute. It is also rather common in publicly traded companies to see a rift between old employees and new employees as a result of rapid expansion.

This kind of story is common to all types of work, so it is not limited to IT companies. However, I have the impression that it tends to happen in many cases where the company is relatively small, labor (knowledge)-intensive, and not in a stable period.

How can we prevent dispute in IT companies? I would like to address some of the issues.

The continuity of the organization is precious. Other priorities can be lowered.

My basic principle is that the continuation of the organization is more important than others.

The PayPal mafia (former PayPal officials) like Eron Musk have many success stories, but even in the early days of PayPal, they quarrelled about technological choices and decided to adopt technologies that were not the best because it was more important to get along with them than to choose the best technological option.

Perhaps it may not good from an engineer's point of view, but I think it is better to prioritize the avoidance of discord among team members than excellent technology selection except for security.

What causes quarrels?

There are many reasons for quarrels, but the following are just a few that come to mind.

  • Full stack rather than expertise is required
  • Sudden policy changes due to pivots
  • Assumes too high an average person's ability
  • The percentage of hands-on people is too high
  • Lack of transparency in information sharing
  • Dissatisfaction with benefits

The smaller the size of the company, the more stress is derived from business instability, and the larger the company, the more dissatisfaction there is with the rigidity of the structure, or the fact that the neighbor department is a government office.

Smaller scale causes more stress from business instability

  • Full stack rather than expertise is required
  • Sudden policy changes due to pivots

is a case of quarrels that occur more in the case of new businesses.

In many cases, only the minimum number of staff is allocated to a new business, whether it is a startup or a large company, because it is not known whether the investment will be profitable or not.

Some people find that moving to a smaller organization increases the scope of their duties, and the need to pick up the ball between them becomes stressful.

It can also lead to frustration as a result of changes in what we sell or make as a result of pivoting from the hypotheses we had in mind.

The best people don't come to a venture

  • Assumes too high an average person's ability
  • The percentage of hands-on people is too high.

These are management issues.

In many cases, the founders of startups are highly educated. They do not necessarily have experience working for a startup, and there are quite a few cases where they suddenly started a startup after working for a large company.

As Mr. Takafumi Horie, a famous Japanese businessman, once said, Excellent talents do not come to venture companies. It is better to work on that premise.

Recently, startups have been treated better, so this assumption is gradually changing, but even so, the weight of new graduates is still high in Japan when it comes to employment. It is unlikely that a talented CXO with a proven track record from the beginning will join your company.

In the case that you have been working for a large, prestigious company for a long time, you tend to assume too much about the average person's abilities and fail to recognize that the people you have been working with are a bit filtered, or that they are smarter than the average person.

In such cases, I think there is a false assumption that mature people don't dispute so much, and that it tends to happen more often than assumed.

If you start judging brilliant jerks, management has already failed.

It is also common to have too many people working with their hands, and it is often the case that senior management is not hired, or there is a lack of motivation to hire due to impatience to develop the product in the first place.

There is a term for people who are brilliant but have communication problems: brilliant jerk. In my opinion, when you encounter dispute, start judging someone is the worst case. If you start judging someone as a brilliant jerk, you have already failed in management.

I've had bosses I didn't get along with, and there were many cases where the person who was the subject of the brilliant jerk judgment was a nice guy when you talked to him in a normal way. So I think an organization that can unilaterally judge someone as harmful at the discretion of the immediate boss is much more harmful.

According to a theory, if you want to pass an opinion, it is more successful to agree on the decision-making process than to pass the opinion itself. Brilliant jerk judgment has a similar aspect. Organizations where dispute occur disregard KPT and 1-on-1.

I get the impression that there is no outlet for the usual complaints, and that the improvement cycle of organizational improvement is often not going around, resulting in people suddenly complaining.

Complaints that larger companies are more rigid in structure

  • Lack of transparency in information sharing
  • Dissatisfaction with benefits

is more of a case of dissatisfaction that is more common in larger companies.

It is more common in large companies that information is not given out until the reason for the overall policy or decision is heard, or work has to be done without much explanation.

As I wrote in The Story of Scrum, in my experience, the longer a company has been in existence, the more prevalent the presence of "me-me-uncle/auntie" types is, and it can be a cancer in the organization.

A COO-like person who was probably full-stack and very useful in the early phase sometimes become useless when a company scales and specialties become more important. I sometimes see cases where he or she tries to force his or her way in between and create his or her own useless position or obstructs communication.

Also, it's a tough world for middle management around here, but I sometimes encounter people who are unwilling to do anything due to dissatisfaction with their benefits. While the motivation of work is not only money, but high salary sometimes solves everything.


Summary. To summarize the above, here are some measures to prevent quarrels.

  • Hire people with high tolerance for full-stack nature in new businesses.
  • Don't rely too much on the excellence of people, but ensure good rapport through structure.
  • Do not disregard KPT and 1-on-1, but vent on a daily basis
  • Consider feedback from members when evaluating managers
  • Follow the market in the evaluation system and wages

In terms of mechanisms, lunch meetings and club subsidies might be a good idea.


I sometimes see people who are mentally ill, although it is different from quarrels.

My recent view is that it is important to have hobbies and community contacts outside of work and to exercise.