Stupid Human Programming
Talk on software development.

Subscribe to "Stupid Human Programming" in Radio UserLand.

Click to see the XML version of this web page.

Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The Microsoft Dysfunction

Mini-Microsoft's "Vista and MS are really screwed up" thread at is just fascinating.

Few of us who have worked in Dilbert's world can't find something to relate to in this post's rain storm of comments. This is my favorite class of comment though:

Just suck it up, make the best of it and stop pointing fingers and get your job done!
Stand up and fucking do something about the problems instead of being a part of the problem.
At the very least, acknowledge your part in the problem, learn from it, and prevent it from
happening in the future.

If you have been a lowly leaf in a very tall and wide company tree, this kind of comment only drives the frustration nail further into your corporate heart. Us leafs often try to change things. We lead by example. We make the changes we can. We lower our lance and with a resolve most firm, take repeated charges at the corporate windmill that is management, process, and culture.

The truth we all eventually learn is: the success or failure of a company is always because of its management. (I also have a corollary: the success or failure of a company is always because of its workers, but that's a subject for another time).

It's sad, I hate to admit it, but a leaf can't possibly provide all the energy a tree needs, no matter how hard you try, no matter how much you care, no matter how many life happiness units you trade in to make it work.

Working locally simply is not enough to globally change a company. Systemic changes happen in management. Only management, in the end, can make the needed large scales changes in organization and culture. The problem is, of course, management usually doesn't know what changes to make. This is the function of great leaders and they are in short supply.

Now the leafs at Microsoft are no doubt working very hard. Much harder than most people can imagine. Even as hard as the Great Generation of people in the 1940s worked. Yes, they work that hard.

But working hard is not enough. A thousand employees pushing against a castle wall won't breach the wall for your teaming conquering hoards. No matter how hard you push the wall will stand. That's how the wall is built. That's how management ramparts are built too.

I think a small breach can be found in a later comment:

Microsoft's management is terrible. But it's always been terrible. It was terrible in 1991
- ask anyone who suffered under, I dunno, gregcr - and it was terrible when I left. It's
terrible now. But the groups, at least, were usually small enough that non-management
could, to one degree or another, push management around, could do the push-back that
would save products.

It was small enough that if, say, you grabbed your boss's boss in the hallway and chewed him out for signing
off on something that you knew didn't and wouldn't work, that, well, you'd probably be okay in the end.

I like this comment because it is real. Face it, both management and workers, yes, even myself, are mostly terrible. We get it wrong much more often than we get it right.

Yet, there's something about being together in a small group that allows the Wisdom of Crowds
to mashup all the wrongness and occasionally flip wrongness into enough rightness that we get stuff done.

In a smaller group there's a correspondingly smaller Tipping Point,. You can do little things that make a big
difference with some confidence that there will be a pay back within your lifetime.

On a branch, if we are all leafs, we leafs can make a difference.


11:28:32 AM    

Click here to visit the Radio UserLand website. © Copyright 2006 todd hoff.
Last update: 7/11/2006; 12:35:10 PM.
March 2006
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31  
Feb   Apr