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Micro-rebellion - The Mad Schemes of Dr. Tectonic — LiveJournal [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Beemer

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Micro-rebellion [Apr. 25th, 2007|11:19 am]
Beemer
Observation for the day:

If someone doesn't follow your detailed directions precisely, it may not be because they didn't understand or you weren't clear in your explanation.

It may be because they thought your directions were stupid and obnoxious, and they decided that, while they would still perform the appointed task, it wasn't worth their while to bother with the idiot details you attached to it.

And now, I'm off to misapprehend some details.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dcseain
2007-04-25 05:42 pm (UTC)
When i work for a micro-manager, nothing pleases me more than getting the job done right, then explaining how i did it, often varying widely from what they said. :D
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2007-04-25 05:57 pm (UTC)
(nods)
It astonishes me how few managers understand the dynamics of covert sabotage and anti-sabotage.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-04-25 06:11 pm (UTC)
I'd love to hear more about the dynamics of anti-sabotage.

I'm also being interested in how these things may have very little to do with the actual work requested, but everything to do with the request itself.
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[User Picture]From: dpolicar
2007-04-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
Well, I don't mean anything too profound by it... just those times when an instruction gets garbled, or was ill-conceived to begin with, or turns out to be inconsistent with the conditions on the ground, or whatever, and the people implementing it do the right thing rather than follow instructions.
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[User Picture]From: nehrlich
2007-04-25 06:46 pm (UTC)
I've always been fascinated by "Work to rule" strikes where workers follow the letter of all of the regulations in the workplace. When they do so, their productivity drops enormously - in their normal activity, they have all sorts of ways to "anti-sabotage" their workplace. Implicit local knowledge matters.
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2007-04-25 06:30 pm (UTC)
That person may be a micro-managing schmuck.

Or they may have had 9,000 conversations like this already that day…
Me: “Please run the end-of-day processes in the test environment.”
Them: “Okay. They’re done.”
Me: “Why isn’t this part working?”
Them: “Oh, we didn’t know you wanted us to run THAT end-of-day process in the test environment.”
Me: “Please run the end-of-day processes in the test environment, exactly as you run them in production every day.“
Them: “Okay. They’re done.”
Me: “Why isn’t this other part working?”
Them: “Oh, we didn’t know you meant to run ALL of the end-of-day processes.”
Me: “Please run ALL of the end-of-day processes in the test environment, exactly as you run them in production every day.“
Them: “Okay. They’re done.”
Me: “Why isn’t this other part working?”
Them: “Oh, we didn’t know you meant to run the end-of-day processes on ALL the platforms.”
Me: “Please run ALL of the end-of-day processes in the test environment on ALL the platforms, exactly as you run them in production every day.“
Them: “Okay. They’re done.”
Me: “Why isn’t this other art working?”
Them: “Oh, we didn’t know you meant to run the last step of the end-of-day processes.”
Me: “Please run ALL of the end-of-day processes, and all the associated pre- and post-end-of-day processes, in the test environment on ALL the platforms, exactly as you run them in production every day.“
Them: “Okay. They’re done.”
Me: “Why isn’t this other part working?”
…by which point, you begin to realize that you cannot underestimate your audience.

In fact, that was the first thing I was told when I took the technical writing position: Pick the stupidest person in the company, and write everything so they will understand it. The smart people get the short end of the stick yet again.
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[User Picture]From: boat_of_car
2007-04-25 08:46 pm (UTC)

'smart' people


If a manager has 9000 conversations like the one above, IMHO there's another, much more serious issue, because it indicates either a) the manager is incapable of actually communicating what he wants for some reason b) the technologist can't or won't follow instructions (that NEVER happens, right? *wink*) c) the manager doesn't understand the magnatiude or the actual importance of the results ('this part'??? WTF) he is questioning, or hasn't made it clear to the technologist. Sadly, in most cases all three of these things are true and the cycle repeats.

Mainly, the manager is probably a micro-managing schmuck, and will be one of the first against the wall when the revolution comes.
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2007-04-25 10:04 pm (UTC)

Re: 'smart' people

You’re assuming it’s a manager. It could just be some poor shmoe who’s trying to finish his QA on time, but isn’t allowed to touch the test machines for some lame corporate security reason. :)
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[User Picture]From: boat_of_car
2007-04-25 11:15 pm (UTC)

Re: 'smart' people


...Ah, but security is NOT a lame reason at all to control access. Coming from the 'pure IT' side as I do, I am totally in agreement with not allowing QA types full access to my systems: and furthermore, sysadmins and support staff should *never* take orders from QA directly. QA should observe chain-of-command and change managment procedures EVEN MORE DILIGENTLY then suzy in accounting, especially if they presume to know and understand the systems as well as the admins. In actual fact, QA is no more qualified to give instructions to systems support staff than the marketing department. I've known some exceptional QA folks, and even they, the best ones anyway, would agree.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-04-26 12:09 am (UTC)

Re: 'smart' people

Security in general is not lame, but particular security policies can be. And I think you guys are probably talking about different things when you refer to "QA".

There's a perpetual balancing act that has to happen between security and usability. After all, the most secure machine is one that's turned off and unplugged, right?
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2007-04-26 01:00 am (UTC)
Funny thing is that I am the security admin for the test environment; nobody gets in without my say-so. I hold all the keys to all the locks, except the one on the physical door to the room with the machine with the button that says “start end-of-day now”.

So I get to wreak merry havoc as king and god of my own little domain… until I have to beg the castellan two castles over for the keys to the bathroom. Then we go through the “who’s on first?” routine.
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2007-04-26 12:51 am (UTC)
You seem to be determined to take offense at everything I say. And it’s not fair to the Doc here to get into a pissing match on his journal.

So let me just suggest that, as both the change management team lead and the person who built the QA department here from scratch, I might actually know what I’m talking about. And that it would be a waste of time and bandwidth for me to explain to you the very many ways in which you are mistaken about the way we run our shop.

And let us draw this tangent to a close.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-04-25 09:02 pm (UTC)
I totally see your point, and thankfully, it's not the kind of situation I'm referring to.

Y'know, I hear about a lot of companies that have these really deep pathologies that are obvious to the folks in the trenches, but whose management is unable to fix them. It seems like there ought to be a way to make lots of money off that discrepancy...
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[User Picture]From: nehrlich
2007-04-25 09:50 pm (UTC)
Um, except the clueless management is the one with the money. It's far better to make money by going the other way and appealing to clueless management - this is where we get enterprise software systems.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2007-04-25 10:01 pm (UTC)
Sure, but there's gotta be a way to arbitrage the information in the market or something. "I know that MondoCo's management is clueless and hosed in modes X, Y, and Z" has got to be worth money to somebody.
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From: hapaxeslegomena
2007-04-25 10:07 pm (UTC)
But that kind of revelation would drive the stock price down, and then the gubbermint would come arrest you for making a bunch of billionaire gamblers slightly less richer than they would have been otherwise.

That is, if I understand the role of the SEC correctly. ;)
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