several inspections, I had to miss a meeting and a person from the development team moderated. The team found that it was very difficult for that person to be objective and decided that they really did need the outside moderator for the rest of their inspections."
Respondent F says, "[Moderators come from] anywhere you can get them! Slow moving individuals...who don't run away fast enough! Just kidding. At our place, all staff get the same training, so in theory, anyone can serve as a moderator. There is a natural selection process where some people seem to be better suited to moderate, which gets them "elected" more frequently. Of course, we have the standard caveats, such as manager vs. non-manager, not the reader or author, etc. Regarding funding for inspections, I guess I could say it comes from projects, but it's hard to tell. We don't really have hard and fast rules about how projects are funded."
So, Where Should Moderators Come From?
In my experience, these are all good answers. The general answer I would give has two parts:
- It must depend on the individual organization.
- It must depend on the individual person.
Part 1 says that you cannot have a general organizational answer because there are so many different structures. Trying to impose somebody else's answer on your organization usually leads to disaster. For example, some people have success with moderators from QA, but in other organizations, QA is not a respected body--and respect is absolutely essential for success as a moderator.
Respect is also the reason for part 2 of my answer because people are so variable that you must have the right skills, above all. Trying to impose a moderator with the right job title but inadequate skills will kill any review.
I very much like the list provided by respondent D, to which I would add these comments:
- Must be willing to moderate. (This is not a job for draftees, who will turn tail and run at the first resistance they get from the reviewers. You need a kind of unreasonable, burning dedication to do this job well.)
- Must have (or be willing to develop) facilitation skills for both meetings and situations.
- Must have (or be willing to develop) planning skills
- Should have good people skills (All the above skills are essential. However, I place skills second to willingness because, as respondent D indicates, you can develop skills. But don't imagine that skills develop just from experience. Training is essential, and keeps being essential. You never get good enough as a moderator. Experience is essential, too, but it takes too long and costs too much in failed reviews to learn only from experience. Moreover, you'll burn out too many promising candidates if you just throw them unprepared into the fire pit.)
- Must have credibility with the engineers--the team must allow the moderator to facilitate. (This may seem intangible, but it's essential. Not every moderator, no matter how skilled, is the right moderator for a given review. The moderator must not only be objective, but must be seen as objective by the team. That's why I always recommend that the producing team have veto power over the moderator. That way, they start the review with the agreement that "we accept this person's authority over us in the context of this review, on the process of the review." Authority over the process is far more important than authority over the content, as respondent D suggests when he says, "We like to get moderators from other projects. That way the moderator will tend to moderate instead of being a