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well yes, wasn't that the point?

"Management thinks you are a superstar, and you say management are idiots.  What does that tell you?
(1 + 1 = 2) "  - "potshot"

Isn't it a universal truth that Management doesn't know what they want?  Speaking generally, of course.  Some managers "get it", like Joel "gets it", but most don't. 

The key is not in the value you deliver but in the perception by management of your value.  If you can sell it, you ARE a superstar.  If I can work 2 hours a day (which, by the way, I never said, but hell) and sell my superstardom to management, then why the hell not?

Converseley, if you work your fingers to the bone in the hopes of some formless, ambiguous reward in the future, but can't sell, then son, you're wasing your life.

In closing:  My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, and damn right, it's better than yours.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I think management usually knows exactly what they want; the problem is that what they want is often illogical and provides little (if any) organization benefit.

Kermit
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

So what you're saying is that they THINK they know what they want but they don't know that they only think that they want it.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Engineers should report to engineers. 

That is all there is to say on the subject.  I have 3 days left in my current position, and I boil down my misgivings into that one line.

Only engineers know what engineers are capable of, and what can make their life miserable.

Only engineers will maintain the technical respect of their peers.

Only engineers will provide accurate cost, capital, schedule and feature estimates.  Only engineers understand the value of bottom-up scheduling.

I could probably go on, but as Simon says (dontchoo love to say that? - there's no need to fear, underdog is here) it would be boring.

Having an engineer as a manager is a necessary, but not sufficient prerequesite for success.

hoser
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

I think that's right.

Kermit
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Pure, unfiltered horseshit.

I'm the manager and the senior developer for the department.  I wear both hats all day, every day.  I interface my department to the rest of the company, and I teach and lead my employees technically, in addition to my development work.

I'm sick to death of manager bashing.  I'm really tired of all the whining about how managers don't understand technical people.  Do you know what?  Managers complain about how their engineers don't understand them, or their jobs, or the requirements of the business.  Anything that doesn't fit into the nice, tight compartmentalization of an elegant software solution is a bad thing, no matter what the business requirements are or the external circumstances that have to be accomodated.

I deal with the poor fit between coders and management every day, and you know what?  It's identical to the communications problems and efficiency problems and personnel problems in every other department.  No one feels properly understood and appreciated, and programmers aren't special in this regard.

Here's a better question:  why are programmers so prone to self-pity?

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Who's self-pitying?  I love that managers don't understand engineers.  It makes it SOOOO much easier to take advantage of them and slack off.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Sorry Justin!  Big hug.

{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Justin}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

Have you collected the TPS reports today?

Kermit
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

And I'm sorry, Justin, but most managers are incompetent with regards to the business they're in.  Mangers understand business requirements and how to kiss ass and schmooze and have golf outings and such, but they're usually not domain experts in their industry.  If you are, kudos!  You are a member of an elite caste!

Most managers are so busy playing the role of superior officer that they forget why they hired knowlegable experts in the first place:  /for their expertise/.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

True, what it really boils down to is that there are very few really good managers.

Chris Peacock
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Really good workers in general are uncommon, no need to single out managers.

the party has started
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

muppet said:

"Mangers understand business requirements and how to kiss ass and schmooze and have golf outings and such, but they're usually not domain experts in their industry.  If you are, kudos!  You are a member of an elite caste!"

Hmmm. Isn't it true that most domain experts never end up in upper management spots...?  I mean, if you are truly an expert, this is seen as a threat to the others and they would rather have you as a subordinate to manipulate as they please, I would think.

survivor
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

survivor -

and the cycle continues.

This is a large part of the foundation for my "managers are not my superiors" rant earlier.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

+++Really good workers in general are uncommon, no need to single out managers. +++

This is true but in the current economy, most organizations are top-heavy, so the incompetent louts running the show are more prevalent and more visible and I like to poke them with things.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Only stupid people work for stupid managers.

KneeJerk
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

In the current IT market, EVERYBODY works for stupid managers.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"Converseley, if you work your fingers to the bone in the hopes of some formless, ambiguous reward in the future, but can't sell, then son, you're wasing your life."

Some people work harder because of something called integrity.  They want to operate as an honorable person.  Personally, I don't think your worth is determined by what you can Jedi-mind trick your managers into thinking about you.  Your value as a person is what makes you truly happy, and determines if you are wasting your life or not.  So real personal value is in how a person adapts to adversity.  Some people react by manipulating (oh I meant selling themselves), backbiting, abusing trust, etc.  Others react by working honestly enough to have a clear concious, while increasing their skills so they can either go get a better job or start their own company.

BTW, when you start your own company, you become a manager, and if you hire guys like muppet, they will be calling you an idiot behind your back.  It doesn't even matter how smart you are, it only matters if you do everything exactly how they want, because that is the only way they will accept that you are right.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

C.W.

You're exactly right.  And I don't happen to evaluate my self worth based upon what a good boy I am in the corporate system.  It's a dog-eat-dog, shameful world out here.  It's a shame, but it's life in this arena.  My only goal is to survive well enough to get out and make an honest living someday on my own merits.  That's when I'll have succeeded, and that's when my self worth will begin to climb.

How can you possibly work within the corrupt, decaying, dehumanizing system of corporate America and claim any integrity?  You're only propping it up.

Good for you if you're moral and honest and never lie or cheat.  You're still aiding and abetting those who do.  Which is worse?  Neither.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Any place I've worked where technical people were in also in charge of the business decisions, nothing ever got done.  In one case the company went bankrupt.

You need managers who understand business.  You need engineers who understand technology.  It's a rare, rare person who can wear both hats succesfully.

AMS
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Absolutely, AMS.  But in the ideal situation, the skilled manager (skilled in resource allocation, project management, business requirements, technical advocation, etc) needs also to understand that he has hired technical experts BECAUSE they are experts, and not to undermine them with his attempts to be the Superior Officer in All Instances.

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Becoming a part-time manager didn't open my eyes to how difficult managers have it.  It opened my eyes to a general thing that seems to be true in every workplace:  there are good employees and bad employees (including managers), and there are difficulties between employees (including managers) that look like incompetence or malice from each side.

I've seen nothing to indicate that programmers or engineers are especially unique in this regard.  It's a general phenomena of organizational behaviour, so I find these self-pity sessions coupled with self-congratulation to be irritating in the extreme.

The grossest long lasting legacy of the dot-com boom is the self-granted elite status of coders who think that they're genius malcontents, misunderstood by a cruel world.  Read something by Paul Graham to see what I mean, or the other thread at the top today about how programming is the most mentally demanding profession out there.

Everyone feels like they're boss sucks at one time or another.  Everyone feels like they wouldn't have to work so hard to fix stupid mistakes if other people weren't so dumb.  There's nothing special about us.  We have a particular set of skills.  We're individually better or worse at our jobs, just like everyone else.

Muppet, can you honestly say that you've never done anything that made your boss shake his head and wonder how you find your way out of the house every morning?

Justin Johnson
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

"How can you possibly work within the corrupt, decaying, dehumanizing system of corporate America and claim any integrity?  You're only propping it up."

Dude, I didn't say I was defending corporate America.  I am just as sick of the crap of a big corporation as the next guy.  That is exactly why I AM starting my own company.  And if that doesn't work, I will be willing to take less money to work in an environment that does reward honest hard work.  You may think that just doesn't exist, but I believe it does, just few and far between.  I don't work in a corporate job because I want to, I have a family that depends on my income alone to live.  As soon as I can take care of them AND put myself in a better place, I'm going to do it.  Until then, they are first in line.  But while I still have to work for the machine, and they give me a paycheck, integrity demands that I do at least my paycheck's worth.  That's all I'm talking about.

You really seem to be under the impression that everything is a black and white issue.  You are either anti-MS or you are a fanboy.  You either think all managers are idiots or you are a patsy drone (or you are a suck-up).  Here's a bit of advice: you are allowed to be more reasonable in your assessment of any given polarized issue.  Just because a person doesn't totally agree with your over-asserted form of argument does not mean they are automatically defending the most extreme opposite viewpoint.  Bottom line is just chill... at least a little bit.  Please.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Clay,

Did you write that on company time?

Mr. Manager
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

yeah, Clay.  Did you?  :)

+++That is exactly why I AM starting my own company.  And if that doesn't work, I will be willing to take less money to work in an environment that does reward honest hard work. +++

That's fine.  That's what I hope to do, too.  But until I have the resources to do so, I'm stuck where I am, in a corporate drone position.  I feel that I DO my paycheck's worth without slaving 8 non stop for 8 hours every day, poring over code with sweat-beaded brow, until the quitting time bell sounds.

I work on assignments, I browse technical sites, I sip some coffee.  Sometimes I go on fark or slashdot and read some articles (but usually skip the user comments).  And yes, occasionally I rip out some code for a personal project.

Conversely (as I have stated before) when I'm home and a lightbulb goes off concerning a work project, I open an email client or an editor and fire off a few lines to bring to work (or email there).

Another side of this issue is this:  If I am being paid $X, and my colleagues are all being paid $X, and my colleagues are doing Y amount of work in N time, but I can do Y in 1/2N, why should I do 2Y over the course of N, but still receive X?  You and I both know that I will not receive $2X no matter HOW productive I am, barring my going to work for another company and negotiating $2X from the outset.  So instead, I do Y, or perhaps 1.2Y or 1.3Y in order to show my employer I am valuable.

Why is this unacceptable?  Why should I burn myself out doing 2Y daily for Y pay simply because I could?

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Finally, you made an argument that is somewhat reasonable without making extreme assumptions about your opponent.  Actually, I agree with that.  However, if part of the agreement for $X salary is that you don't do personal work, then unfortunately that is part of doing the Y work to earn X salary.

But I will give credit where it is due.  That post was reasonable and civil.

p.s. Acknowledging what the right thing to do is, and actually doing it are two different things.  I'm not saying I'm perfect, I just find it a little annoying when people actually argue that wrong is actually right.  Let's just admit that we do wrong sometimes out of frustration that right isn't rewarded like it should be.

Clay Whipkey
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The managers will want you to do 2Y.  The coworkers will want you to do Y, but in N, for the same basic reason people hated the smart kid in grade school - he screws up the "curve" (yes, I know it's not a curve, but again, this is grade school, so zip it).  Surely if *you* can do 2Y, why can't everyone else?  Bad.

What I've taken to doing if I find myself with free time is having a personal side project that has something to do with work, even just tangentially.  My last side project was made my full-time project for 6 months - so I basically got to pick my architecture, implementation, yadayadayada, and work on something I wanted to work on.

Greg Hurlman
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

+++
p.s. Acknowledging what the right thing to do is, and actually doing it are two different things.  I'm not saying I'm perfect, I just find it a little annoying when people actually argue that wrong is actually right.  Let's just admit that we do wrong sometimes out of frustration that right isn't rewarded like it should be.+++

I suppose this depends on your personal moral compass.  I do not feel it is immoral to do my own thing, even against the stated confines of my employment, so long as my employer receives what he perceives to be acceptable return on his investment in hiring me.

Of course my boss would probably say that he doesn't want me working on personal projects at work.  Frankly though, it's not his business whether I do or not.  Unless I'm stealing trade secrets, or working on my own stuff prevents me from finishing Y in N, then why should he even care what else I do during "his" 8 hours?

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Muppet,

I agree with you that being judged on results is better than on time spent sitting in a chair.  However, I think that you'd probably be better off if you went to an organization that rewarded your comparatively better results (or that judged your results in a way that you think is more fair).  You might be able to do Y in .5N to your coworkers N, but you're shortchanging your future by doing half as much work as you normally could.  If, in a simplistic model of learning, it takes M years to understand Q concepts, over a M year period you'll learn .5Q as much as people who were motivated to work really hard.

Kalani
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Even without the usual bigotry about managers I'd gladly wear the black hat and wield the axe for bringing up that damn milkshake ditty.

You muppet. (expressed in the correct estuarial accent).

Simon Lucy
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

:D

muppet
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Now I see why Muppet has been laid off so many times.

9
Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Muppet has been laid off so many times because Muppet used to work in insurance IT, and insurance IT is all but nonexistant now.  For a while it was still easier for Muppet to get insurance jobs since that was his background, but now they're all but gone.  And that's all there is to it.  Sorry, but that line won't work.  Try to figure out another reason I'm not better than you at your job.

muppet
Thursday, August 05, 2004

"Muppet has been laid off so many times because Muppet..."

Speaking about yourself in third person now, eh?

Me, myself and Muppet
Thursday, August 05, 2004

yep.  In response to childish nonsense, I try to come down to the level of the opposing viewpoint so as to be better understood.

muppet
Thursday, August 05, 2004

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