Well alot of this blog looks a little sentimental to me, especially given the sunset backdrop, but this story is a fascinating analysis of some of the ill-advised justifications that I probably try to use to pull the wool over my own eyes:
I have heard a popular tale which intends to compare monkeys to employees. I won’t attempt repeat it here, but if you haven’t heard it, just google it . Anyhow, I find no actual experiment like this ever conducted and I believe it is simply a myth, or as Casey Sorrow from monkeydaynews says, a corporate anecdote.
This very short article really resonates with me, so much so that it helps to explain a recent work experinece I have had. I would brazenly call myself one with a ‘Leader Mindset’ instead of an employee mindset. In the above article, Dan Coughlin describes this mindset as:
People with The Leader’s Mindset say, “After I identify the desired end result, I will build my activities around the priorities necessary for achieving that vision.” Their greatest desire is to be effective in terms of accomplishing the vision. If things don’t work out, they say, “I selected the wrong priorities to focus on,” or “My process for achieving that goal has flaws in it. I will need to think through what worked and what did not work and then try again.”
He constrasts this with what he calls the Employee Mindset which follows:
People with The Employee’s Mindset say, “Tell me exactly what you want done and I will go do it.” Their greatest desire is clarity of assignment. If things don’t work out, they always say, “I did exactly what you told me to do.” They accept no responsibility for the failure.
The problems arise, when management is not quite ready for employees with this leadership mindset, since they have built their thinking around the norm. In Coughlin’s conclusion, he says:
By far, the greatest time-waster that I know of is when individuals allow other people to interrupt their schedule. This is particularly true of subordinates allowing their supervisors to pull them away from what they have decided is the most effective use of their time. Top performers simply do not allow this to happen. They have the courage to say to others including their boss that they are currently working on something else.
This works fine in theory, but in practice lead me to being fired from a small company where I recently worked (with almost no notice) for ‘insubordination’ and ‘difference in management style’. Just as deadly coffee is still as dangerous with cream and sugar, these ideas can still be quite threatening when they challenge management who have been promoted with what Couglin calls the ‘Employee’ (tell me what to do so I won’t have to be accountable) mindset.
Poor management has quite a bit of patience for normal employee hi-jinx (drinking at lunch, stealing minor company resources, dragging out deadlines, watching you-tube) because these are in a way reassuring that the employee is still in a way childlike and management is adultlike. Poor management goes into crisis mode over challenges to the fundamental way that work is viewed and accomplished.
Paul Graham actually believes that the only hope for very effective employees, and apparently especially programmers, is in startups which statistically should only be in startup cities. This is a little harsh, I still haven’t given up on more established companies, but so often I feel like I am banging my head against a wall when I try to accomplish what makes perfect sense to me in an effective way.
The problems of the real world are primarily those you are left with
when you refuse to apply their effective solutions.
Edsger W. Dijkstra
The Truth is in many cases about 30% more complicated and 30% less fantastic and interesting than what we perceive of it. When this happens repeatedly, we see a multiplier effect which is probably irreconcilable. We measure the world poorly with inadequate tools.
In the 1960s Marshall McLuhan was the creator of the terms ‘the medium is the message’, ‘global village’. He was later named ‘Patron Saint’ of Wired magazine. One of his most interesting ideas is the Tetrad . To make a tetrad, you start with some ‘medium’ or innovation. In this case, I pick the Free Software Licenses, such as GPL and try to place them into a context of what came before it and what is to come because of it. The medium enhances something, obsoletes something, retrieves something, and finally reverses into something, somewhat like a star collapsing in on itself.
I can textually show a tetrad like this:
[ reverses ] [ enhances ] [ medium ] [ obsoletes ] [ retrieves ]
Here is my tetrad for free software licenses:
[ 3rd party distributions ] [ free software options ] [ free software license ] [ private software dev. ] [ scientific collaboration ]
This is to good exercise in trying to put words to ideas about a medium and I believe often leads to a desire to better name elements of the tetrad, especially the ‘reserve’ field since such thing may not have yet happened and thus may not have a great term coined yet. In the above model, the free license disappears and eventually an outsider would only see the 3rd party software distribution. So something spectacular appears less so; all of the collaboration of linux is reduces to, for example, a statement like: “Oracle is supported only under Red Hat Linux and we must buy a license from Red Hat in order to use it professionally.”
Here is a tetrad for a software package that we use called Appworx Job Scheduler. In this case, it is actually in the reverses field because it has passed its prime and been bought by another company called UC4:
[ appworx/uc4 ( half refactored quagmire) ] [ oracle database ] [ sqloper ] [ Windows Job Sched. and cron ] [ JES job scheduler ]
A while back I got a microsoft fingerprint reader, hooked it up, became frustrated with it and then installed Ubuntu. Well It turns out that work is in progress to deal with it. So far a fingerprint_demo program exists and can support it with this extra driver: http://www.qrivy.net/~michael/temp/ . The guy that runs this site is Michael Crusoe who says he is a System Administrator who also helps the BioMetrics Industry. Rock on System Admins!!! The temp part of his url is a little scary, but whatever.
So after getting the fingerprint reader demo working, I looked further and found that Daniel Drake is not working on fingerprint reader support but also a new version of libusb. Here is his blog: Reactivated.net
This theory seems to say that language forms the way we think.
Sterling Commerce implements the industry standard Electronic Data Interchange EDI (ASC X12) ASC X12 This is apparently the defacto B2B solution for hardened industries. In the future, it seems apparent that other technologies will need to be explored in parallel. Perhaps this is a testament to XML’s inability to take over the world as some imagined. Next we might learn that Data Warehouses are silly and there is no tooth fairy. Crap!