"Geeks" and licensing

From: Chris Kennedy <chris_at_mainecoon.com>
Date: Tue Dec 18 11:32:44 2001

Douglas Quebbeman wrote:

> Is this Darwinian? That is, do people who lose their common sense
> and become stupid just naturally rise up into management (a la
> The Peter Principle)? Or do they willingly learn to be stupid
> once they rise up into management?

I don't believe that being stupid or out of touch with reality
is a requirement to be part of management (although historically
people with those -er- qualities have flocked to management,
presumably because there wasn't enough demand for telephone
sanitizers). However, it's clear that success in management
often has more to do with being politically astute than with
producing meaningful results, hence some of the mind-numbing
stupid management tricks. Some of my favorites:

Moving crap to the other side of a painted line on the loading
dock so it can be claimed as "shipped" in the financial
roll-up when in fact nobody has ordered the stuff.

Shipping code with known defects to customers in order to
placate them -- never mind the fact that once crap like that
escapes the shop all development stops because everyone is
running around pissing on fires. Closely associated:
shipping stuff with known defects but making it all
better by affixing the label "alpha" or "beta" (or
my personal favorite "pre-alpha", whatever the hell
_that_ is).

Producing schedules based on what marketing/sales has
committed to the customer without bothering to consult
engineering. There's one guy who has been a thorn in my side
for months -- a (I am not joking) former penile implant
salesman who not only tells customers that we have
functionality in place when nobody has even though of
writing specs for it, but then doesn't bother to tell anyone
that he's done so until 48 hours before the product is due
at the customer site.

All of these behaviors are the consequence of lying -- if
not to the customer, then to the board, the shareholders
or to themselves -- all in an effort to close a deal or
deflect criticism. Everything is optimized to the present,
long-term consequences be damned.

> Chris, you're management, so I know this isn't universal (how
> has your brain survived?) but it's damned prolifigate...

Because I've never stopped doing engineering. While I do a lot
more architecture than code slinging these days I _still_
write code. I don't last long in situations where I'm asked
to do "pure" management (i.e., put on a tie and spend all day
in meetings, pre-meetings, pre-pre-meetings, kickoff
meetings and other forms of corporate circle jerks when not out
grin f*cking customers); likewise I have a low tolerance for
corporate form-and-function when it gets in the way of
delivering quality product to the customer on something
resembling schedule and budget. If things are screwed up
I try to fix them, if I can't fix them I pull chocks and
move on.

Who actually received "Chris should be more tolerant of
corporate form and function" on a review...)
Chris Kennedy
PGP fingerprint: 4E99 10B6 7253 B048 6685  6CBC 55E1 20A3 108D AB97
Received on Tue Dec 18 2001 - 11:32:44 GMT

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