The other day I overheard a group of three IT workers (DBA's and Database Developers) candidly discussing their views of IT process problems that related to their jobs. They talked about responsibilities, gaps or shortcomings in roles and responsibilities, and the interdependencies between their group and the other groups of front-end developers, Quality Assurance and the Business Analysts. This was not a gripe session, nor these people complains. They are smart, hard workers and have good attitudes. They were discussing items such as why do we allow specs to come in late, rush critical process like promotion of code to production, continue to repeat mistakes, miss obvious gaps in roles and responsibilities. They cared about their work, wanted to be productive, and were thoughtful about how things are and how things could be.
I thought that their views would be valuable to management, but my guess is that management will never hear any of it. It feels as it as soon as there is an official meeting to discuss process problems, no one shares the views openly and honestly. For the most part, people don't want to appear mean, crititical or attacking, or hurt important interdepartment relationships, and certainly they do not want jeopardize their career future by commenting on management itself.
So how do we get insight from those closest to IT processes (and problems)? If meetings don't do it, perhaps lunch one-on-one's would. After 5 - 10 lunch meetings, a more clear and well-rounded view of issues might come into view. If any specific issues came up that needed to be dealt with, it would be more difficult for the group to feel that any one person was a whistle-blower. Additionally, issues with a manager might be approachable because the manager is not in front of a group and potentially embarrassed.
At the very least, one might get to know their workers better, and the workers would feel valued and appreciated for the time.