This is My Blog

August 25, 2009

Really, it is. Rumors of my disappearance have been greatly exaggerated.

Organizational Fiction

September 10, 2007

My wife was relating to me a conflict that she not only witnessed but also had the fortune of receiving an ear-full from both of the participants. It’s seems that worker-bee one and worker-bee two were assigned to work on a project together. Worker-bee one became very frustrated with the newly-hired worker-bee two because number two wasn’t doing all that number one thought she should. Number one felt shafted for having to build more than his fair share of that section of the hive. So, now both of them and their manager will gather together, stare dumbly at one another play, I’m-Rubber-You’re-Glue.

I suppose everyone has heard it before. Unmet expectations. Unclear expectation. Blah, blah, blah…. I was getting bored, save for the deep emotional investment I have in my wife. She was in the middle and didn’t know what to do. Poor thing. But at this point, she said something that almost made me drop my latte and slap the coffee snob next to me.

bq. “yeah, the problem is a process problem, not really a people problem. ”

In these 12 words(wait, let me count again. Yep, 12.) lies the secret to rise and fall of every great organization throughout history, regardless of form, function or agenda.

“Woah, that’s profound,” you say.

“Can you back that up with data,” you say.

No I cannot,  but, I can sloppily extrapolate from a woefully small set of examples into overly broad set of generalization. This is the Gen-X way.

Let’s examine Worker-Bee two, shall we? Upon further research, it turns out that Worker-Bee two had concerns before the completion of the hive, but let’s pretend he didn’t.

Did Number Two stagger blindly through his gathered requirements, blind to their incompleteness? Perhaps he did. Mark him down one point.

Did Number One start his job with no previous experience in the corporate world it’s proclivity for vagueness? Probably not. Mark him down another point.

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s Thinking People; 0 and Worker Bee Two, -2.

We can, however, assume that neither of these is true because he’s not a moron. How do I know he’s not a moron? He’s not in management and while that fact doesn’t guarantee one a position at the top of the intellectual food chain, it does the improve the odds that his education extended beyond creative ways to tap kegs and the most effective sequence when sleeping your way through the MBA review board.

As I said, Worker-Bee Two did have some clue that there were piece of the puzzle missing, but really, what can we expect from a drone in these situations. Surely, there was some physical barrier preventing him from seeking out his boss and getting clarification.

Um, no.

What about death threats? Number Two must have been under threat of violence of some sort that precluded him from approaching his boss and/or co-worker and saying, “I got nothing’ Really, help me out here.”

Nope.

Contractual obligations to never speak to another human being”?

Nope.

A long standing vow of silence for deeply-held religious reasons that also kept him from typing an email?

Sadly, no.

I could make some serious value judgments here about Number two and, in fact, I did and them erased them. This is probably some legacy sense of guilt and empathy for the average drone. I must talk to my therapist about this.

Let’s move on to Worker-Bee One. Worker Bee one is, really, the more useless of the two, despite the fact that she apparently did more of the work. No, she is more useless because she knew better but has had her mind so-sucked-dry by the hive as to put her beyond rescue.

Let’s assume that WB1 was not bound by any of the contrive and somewhat offensive consideration of WB2. Let’s also assume that she’s not a moron (again, no management experience.) What we can learn about WB1 from these assumptions and the outcomes of these events is that she either so very afraid of human contact even through to proxy of email or so lazy as to not walk the apparent 50 fifty feet to her c0-worker’s desk.

Then, there’s the manager. Ah, the manager. I’d like to say it’s his fault, but I’m not sure you can expect much from the product of the Greek system these days. At the least, someone should have tracked him down and slapped his nose with a newspaper, rubbed his snout in the carpet and shouted, “Bad manager! Bad! That is not the way you communicate objectives to your employees! BAD!”

So, let’s back up a bit now as we draw to a close and before we take the offering (mostly because I’m tired of talking about these folks) . Where exactly, in these admittedly-misinterpreted and oversimplified set of circumstances did the “process” break down?

The moral of the story. There is no difference between a process-problem and and a people-problem. They are the same. Punto!

LUnit

August 22, 2007

LUnit is a new software test package I’m putting together. The L stands for “Life” and it’s a way to live test-first. It’s a complex meta-physical package that allows one to code ones expectation from any given real-life situation one encounters and then iteratively run the tests with different input until you get the desired outcome from that situation.

I thought of this in a dream I had last night, a dream in which I was coding my own life, test-first.

I need a vacation.

I was reading this commentary and it helped me coalesce thoughts that I’d been mulling over for the last couple of weeks. The primary challenge Americans on this issue is how to respond to the “majority of climate scientists.” America stands, I believe, at a cross-roads, uniquely centered around this issue and it is this; will we continue and complete our march to technocratic governance or will decided that we want to continue to be a democratic republic, free to destroy ourselves if we so wish.

The average Americans is at distinct disadvantage in this country. We cannot begin to understand let alone confidently analyze the science and data behind this issue. All we can best do is make an semi-educated guess. If allowed to act according to our best intentions and in our own interest, I believe, as does the Czech president, that we’ll work it out. Or, we might not. We might send ourselves to our destruction. The scientists must be willing to allow us to do so, however much they may deride us and wring their hands over our ignorance.

Failing the scientists torturous forbearance and the politicians adherence to the rule of democracy, we are left to hand our fortunes over to a collection of scientists who will confidently spend our billions and trillions of dollars, with the best of intentions. And taxes go up. Or our debt. Americans are, when convinced, all too happy to hand over to the mental heavy lifting to other folks, especially with the new season of Lost starting in the fall. So, the price of fuel doubles and with it, the price of food due to increased manufacturing and transportation costs and everything else with it in the industrialized world. The poor and lower middle class are squeezed tighter in their wallets and we blame the politicians for failing to adequately manage our economy for us.

The irony is that we are being asked to accept the conclusions on the majority of climate scientists, essentially, on faith. In this age, no other group in our society is given the credence that the scientific community is asking of us. The majority of the religious community have either been stripped of or have abdicated their morale authority. No longer does the word of a priest or reverend carry significant weight with the majority of Americans on the issues of morale import – their opinions being seen as pre-judiced or self-invested. No, the chance of the U.S becoming a theocracy are long since past. Americans chaff against this rule and yet, the scientific community asks no less of us than, “trust us, we know what’s best for you.” In this new order you’re not called a heretic or sinner. In some ways you’re labeled something far worse – ignorant. You’re written off and the environmentalists quietly dismiss and step around you, unless you stand up and shout and make a fool of yourself. No, the age of technocracy is upon us.

Here’s the thing. What if Americans just don’t want to do it. What if the majority of Americans never come to care about “climate change.” What if they never come to accept the doubling of gas prices or rolling brown-outs or one sheet of toilet paper a day? For the love of god, what if I want a “two-gallon” toilet? Would the environmentalist movement respect the wishes of the majority while still trying to convince them or will they move the force the hand of the populace to relinquish authority?

My Quandary

May 12, 2007

My politics are funny. I have to admit it. I am, by no means, a mean conservative, but I have my share of views that would be at home in the Republican party of old. Note I said, “of old.” I will not defend the modern Republican party as I think it’s become a big mess. In some ways, I think it’s headed in the direction of Democratic party, being split by special interest groups to the point that it becomes impossible to put forward a national candidate of any substance. Both parties seem to be resigned to put their stamp on folks that simply turn up positive on a series of litmus tests. Lest you think that that I am playing the grumpy-old-man-and-in-my-day card, I recognize these things play on a continuum. My contention is the continuum has been placed on a card table with two legs folded up.

So, back to my quandary. I listen to a lot of music. I used to be a music major. I am strongly interested in politics. I am, as a result, deeply troubled. Here’s a something that many people not know; artists tend to skew to left of the political spectrum. I know, it’s a shocking revelation. No doubt, when this post is published on the major news websites, WordPress will come to a grinding halt under the weight of this, but it’s true.

So, how does one reconcile this, constantly having your beliefs bombarded by individuals whose work you admire and respect. There are several possible responses. Based on the quality of the artists work and popularity, I could abandoned my beliefs and adopt the positions espoused in the songs of my idols. Teenagers are prone to this behavior, partly because teenagers are prone to think they’ve uncovered some deep “truth” every time they learn something new, but truly there is nothing new under the sun.

I could take my “Shut up and Sing” placard and join Laura Ingram in the streets but I’m not sure I can really muster that kind of anger. I’ve tried but it just doesn’t work out but the truth is, this frustration has some valid points.

For some perspective, consider that I have not always been bothered by the views of the artists I admire. I’m not sure if I’ve changed or the artists have changed but it seems the vitriol in their tone and the hate in their hearts have reached new heights, Then, there’s the presumption. Of course, all right-thinking people agree that we should vote for Bob Roberts, right?

I was recently on an artists web page and was browsing their blog entries and I came across impassioned plea for the reader to remember to vote in the upcoming election. Knowing that artists views, I wondered, “… and if I don’t intend to vote for your candidate?” Now, Steven Page is not going tell me “no.” That would not be good for his image and it probably wouldn’t honestly reflect his beliefs, but based on the post, I have serious doubts that he was pleading for all Americans to be responsible citizens and to stand up in their civic duty. His assumption was that I, the reader, agreed with him in his politics.

I don’t, but I should go ahead and vote anyway. Just not too many people like me.

I am generally opposed to organized boycotts in all but the most extreme situations. I think they are products of petulance and self-importance, but I do wonder about whom I support with my discretionary spending. In the end, I’ll support the artists that are making quality music unless they are somehow taking my dollars and actively supporting causes that are an affront to me like, terrorism or treason or Michael Moore.

Unfortunately, folks on the left side of the political spectrum seem to make better music. Oh well. I’m destined to a life of being repeated called an idiot in my earphones.

Fear of Blood Sausage

May 11, 2007

I’m headed off to lands, foreign – the mythical land of Madam George and Roses (despite what Sinead had to say about the matter). I am seeking a complete change of scenery and , Lord willing and Rebellion/UK allowing, I’ll be taking up residents in “The City of Dreaming Spires.”

To say I have trepidations would be an understatement. I have lived my entire life in a single US state. Oh, I have traveled. I’ve been to lots of places around the world, but I always returned to the familiar great plains, where men are men and Democrats are nervous. I have a number of serious concerns, a land where the conservative MP’s would be liberal Dems in the U.S, a country without a written constitution, a form of government that allows the PM to restructure the legislative branch by fiat.

What I fear most, however, is the food. I am not a particularly adventurous eater, by any stretch of the imaginations. My culinary variety consists the many permutations of the potato and meat. There’s meat and potatoes, potatoes and meat, and meaty potatoes. That about does it for me. By “meat” I mean, of course, some cut of the cow that was not involved with digestion, deification, motor coordination or circulation. Or chicken – preferably some part of the breast. And by the time that meat hits the grill, it had better been thoroughly drained of any bodily fluids- all of ’em.

Which brings me to my greatest fear – blood sausage. I simply and flatly refuse to eat this culinary atrocity. Oh, I’m familiar with how it came about and I solute those that struggled to make proverbial lemonade with lemons –
“Hey honey, we’re out of food, what should we do?”

“Hmm, well, we could always congeal the blood drained from these dead animals and then eat that.”

“Hey, great idea! Kids! Tonight we dine like kings!”

… but we needn’t consume the drained bodily fluid of cattle anymore. We are, most of us, sufficiently to not have to make do with a food product that is one step removed from vampirism.

I found my way to a dream job. This refugee from corporate servitude has found his way into the underground railroad of web-comics. A web 2.x world of design, results and happiness. A panacea for all the ills that has plagued me.

I guess I could be going overboard. After all, it’s just a job, right? If I’ve learned anything in my brief time on this spinning globe, it’s these three things.

  1. Walk away from the auger when you feel that stabbing/sharp pain in your back.
  2. One cannot sustain oneself on Reeces Peanut Butter cups, Caffeine-Free Dr. Pepper and non-narcotic painkillers for very long without suffering serious bio-chemical damage.
  3. There’s no such thing as “just a job” in my world.

I’ll not be addressing number one or two, mostly out of concern for future insurance coverage and besides, the third one has been a much more painful lesson to learn.

I suck at doing things I’m not interested in. I’m not talking about just being unhappy and unpleasant. I mean, I suck. It’s a serious character flaw and if you’ve yet read the previous posts, you’ll see that I’ve completely lost interest in developing software for the “man.”

I am pleased to announce my association with clickwheel.net. Good people.

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