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Politics are the worst things we may have to deal with in a company. In a normal company, we the Developers, usually have a project manager who handles all the politics while leaving the technical implementation to us. But once you climb the corporate ladder, you'll be faced with political details more than techincal details. Once, I had a weak manager and I ended up swimming in a soup of shit because of that - one proof that even us, technical leperchauns must know how to handle people the right way.

Well, I found this little pearl in, giving examples of the importance of people management. Both upwards and downwards:

Never forget: the two most important books for developers are "The [C/C++/Java] Programming Language" and "The Prince" by Machavelli. And read the last one once every 6 months to keep it fresh.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

It's funny, I was actually thinking about "The Prince" earlier tonight.  I read that during my first year of college and this one passage stuck with me:

"how we live is so far removed from how we ought to live, that he who abandons what is done for what ought to be done, will rather learn to bring about his own ruin than his preservation.  A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must necessarily come to grief among so many who are not good."

The years of experience I've had since then have only reinforced the importance of this passage to me.  I think that's one of the more important ideas that somebody ought to bring into a new organization.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

WOW! code is thicker than blood. really...

Michael Moser
Sunday, July 11, 2004

Great article. I had a similar thing happen to me with one particularly machiavallian co-worker.

He made a presentation about the new architecture they were going to implement. Which I learned he stole from the technical lead on the project. The technical lead was fired a few weeks later.

Several months after that guy was fired, he asked me to make a presentation to him about my department. I promptly downloaded Seth Godin's "Bad Powerpoint (and how to avoid it)" ebook from Amazon.

My powerpoint presentation was full of whimsical graphics that emphasized my points, didn't make the reader follow along on the presentation rather than listen to me, and made people laugh.

After the presentation he turned to me & said "This is nice, but I have to give the head of technology a presentation on Monday, I can't give him this." Too bad, he was going to have to do his own damn work.

A few months later I was fired.

I'm about 1,000,000 times happier now than I was in that working environment, which turned from good to sour extremely quickly. As far as I'm concerned, any working environment that causes you to think of your co-workers in terms of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Musahi, Von Clauaswitz, Warfighting, and other books on dealing with adversarial relationships is an environment to be avoided at all costs.

One thing the article fails to mention, and that I recognized in my working environment & his, is that these power shifts are often planned ahead of time & there's often little you can do to escape them. The best thing to do is simply extract yourself. There is no winning or losing if you refuse to play the game.
Sunday, July 11, 2004

FWIW, I don't think it's "planned" like some guy sits down with an org chart and plots who to fire, when and how - it comes second nature to them, and they act on it with all the ruthless sociopathic efficiency they can.


Sunday, July 11, 2004

I once had a boss who liked to take credit for the presentations I made for him. The sort of presentations that take a couple weeks to research and prepare for, so that he can say "I discovered" instead of "we discovered." The last time he asked me to make him one, I placed my initials on the overhead slides, and the hand outs, but not the handout he used to rehearse with. After that last presentation (which blew his cover/rep in the whole company), he stopped denying my requests to transfer to another department.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

"As far as I'm concerned, any working environment that causes you to think of your co-workers in terms of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, Musahi, Von Clauaswitz, Warfighting, ..."

Preach it brother (since its Sunday).

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Having been screwed often enough by failing to follow the advice of both Sun Tzu and Machiavelli, and living in an economically depressed area, as much as I might like to extract myself, I'd do better to keep their lessons in mind.

Principally, know when somebody is trying to screw you, and make sure that they're the one that gets it instead.  Also, keep the people who work for and with you very happy, so they'll help you to avoid a screwing, rather than hold your screwer's coat.

Clay Dowling
Sunday, July 11, 2004

Philo, I disagree with you. I believe somene DID look at the org chart & decide who was going & who was being brought in to replace them.

This was around 2000 - 2001 & the new head of technology was Indian. The new technical lead - and as soon as he showed up we wondered what the old one was going to be doing (nobody had said anything to him about redefining his position) - was also from India, and I believe related to the head of technology by some distant cousin, but that could just be a rumor.

My particular department - about 4 people - was either fired (like I was, actually downsized with about 1,000 other people that day) or absorbed in to the main dev team.

When we fired the local vendor & replaced it with a company in India (which is wholly or partially owned by my former employer) I began to wonder about their choice to bring in an Indian CTO & lead developer and wonder how far in advance the shift had been planned.

The whole thing was very uncomfortable for everyone, and as far as I can tell, still is uncomfortable. While the writing was on the wall for the former tech lead, when he was fired he was quietly escorted out of the building, and no explanation was given.

My opinion at the time was that this was a scare tactic - you never know who will be next, so keep your nose down & work hard.

Anyway, I'm much happier now & feel sorry for the people who weren't laid off & still work at that soul sucking place. It wasn't always like that, but you can almost to the day when a plan was set in to motion & slowly carried out.

The guy that wrote that article is kidding himself if he thinks that once the new CTO decided to bring in his friend to "consult" that he either had a choice in the matter, or could do much to alter his destiny. Only some serious backstabbing & wheeling & dealing could've kept his position intact.
Monday, July 12, 2004

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