More hard fought wisdom

If a not very urgent, small and uncomplicated project is on the order of an afternoon’s worth of work, and you put it off sufficiently long, eventually the number of meetings about it (not involving you) and the number of other people involved (up and down the management chain) will reach the point that you could start a whole new division on the intellectual and organizational energy being spent on the issue. Yes, wait long enough and they will mint a VP just to take charge of about a hundred lines of code.

This, of course, makes it totally worthwhile to continue to find other shit to do. Popcorn is optional.

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Work expands to exceed your capacity for stress.

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Day one on the new job: Get something compiling and working, and do a check-in. That gets the ball rolling and greases the rails ahead of you. Most failures to onboard that I’ve seen involve folks who think this stuff is trivial, put it off for a few weeks until they “get around” to writing some code, whereupon they get behind and never quite catch up.

Bonus points for making things crash spectacularly (ahem, before checking in) — now you get a free intensive lesson from a debugging guru.

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Nobody planned for things to suck as bad as they appear to. You just walked in at a bad time.

Or at least that’s what they told me. Grab a keyboard and start typing, they’re gaining on us.

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If you can, take an unplanned mental health day. I’ve emailed my boss and cow-orkers at 5:30 in the morning, saying “Hey, it’s gonna be a beautiful day, and I’m going to spend it on two wheels in the mountains instead of pushing buttons in my stall.” Come back refreshed and grinning and try not to make them feel too bad.

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The phrase “We do agile here” is nearly always followed by “But . . .”

Whereupon you can be pretty sure that there’s nothing actually agile going on.

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There’s a logical explanation, but:

[ ] You’re not a logical person, and I can’t explain it to you.

[ ] Who says the law is logical?

[ ] Do you want to educate fifty million users?

[ ] That was in the 16th century, and they burned him at the stake.

[ ] I will fill you in while I low-level format this disk drive. Can you pass me that hammer?

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10 Responses to More hard fought wisdom

  1. Another way to announce a mental health day: “I’m calling in well”

  2. Tux2000 says:

    My favorite: “Don’t think about it, it just causes a headache.”

  3. Matt says:

    “Eurgh, why is this thing so hateful.”
    “Because it hates you.”
    “Well, I’ve got the upper hand, I can reach deep into its terrible innards, and change it. It can’t change me.”
    “It’s already changed you.”

  4. landon says:

    @Matt: Laughing out loud here. My son asked for an explanation, and I said that he’d have to acquire sufficient bitterness.

    “Sometimes the dark side wins.”

  5. James Cheap says:

    Find the gurus and show enough keen, genuine interest so that they let you sit in their office and take copious notes whilst they preach ‘the word’. I did just that in my first year at SCO. “they” were Andrew S. and Don W. — kernel and networking experts, respectively. I shall never forget the wisdom imparted on a young tester (me) who had a knack for breaking their code.

  6. David M. says:

    HA! That Agile followed by ‘but…’ reminds me of the first place I worked that ‘went agile’…after seeing how ‘agile’ was being done there for a while I said to my boss “so, we’ve pretty much taken waterfall development and sprayed gold paint on it and call the resulting turd agile?” His response was, “pretty much, yes”.

  7. I know I risk of sounding repetitive…

    See Systemantics by John Gall. (You can find HTML and/or PDF copy on the interwebz if you hunt long enough.)

  8. Oh, and: If things didn’t suck, hard, they wouldn’t really need you. #foodforthought

  9. I know I risk of sounding repetitive…

    Argh! I know I risk of sounding repetitive…

    must… proof… read… before… posting… comments…

  10. Find the gurus and show enough keen, genuine interest so that they let you sit in their office and take copious notes whilst they preach ‘the word’.

    That, and carry a clipboard.

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