In software development shops, and business in general, there tends to be many nautical terms used for how the business is doing. We're all aboard the HMS/USS SomeBusiness and its easy to make the correlation to a real ship. Larger business often use various "can't turn the ship" type excuses as to why they can't adopt newer technologies or agile methodologies. Smaller companies talk about "righting" when they've hit a bump along the way and need to rebound (but that's a different analogy). But what about the listing ship? Sure, it's kind of stable. It isn't exactly sinking or capsized. It's definitely not turtling. But what's going on and how do we "right" or fix this?
So how do we stop the talent bleed and right this? A good first start is communication. You know there is a problem. The rest of the team/company knows there is a problem. Don't disregard the problem to the point where nothing can be placed on tables in the galley without them crashing to the floor. You have to be able to answer a few very key questions.
Is the list is growing? Are key players leaving? Have teams stopped caring? Has work slowed or stopped?
Only after the list has stopped worsening can you address righting the ship. There's no use in having additional hiring if there is a mass exodus. The new hires will not have time for proper training and knowledge transfer, burn out, and leave. You have to address why everyone, including the rats, have been scurrying to find a way out.
Once you've established that you are stable but listed, then you can begin the arduous of actually righting. Do the teams on the low side need more support? Are they performing tasks that should be performed by teams on the high side? Will a re-organization help or do you need to just throw bodies as the problem (usually no)?
This isn't my ship and I'm not Jack Sparrow pulling into Port Royal. I've been waving to tuna for quite some time. I've been aggressively pushing cargo back over to the port side that should never have been put on the starboard. I've been fighting and fighting to keep the team under my lead above water and getting no response or reprieve from the captain. I fix problems. I make new features. I can't do that if I'm constantly having to drop everything and grab a bucket to bail water. The list continues to worsen. In short, I need to find a dinghy, lifeboat, yacht, tanker, shrimp boat, you get the idea.
Perhaps I need to just grab a wakeboard or some pool noodles and paddle toward shore on my own.