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The Bosses Do Everything Better (or So They Think)

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the make-a-button-that-does-everything dept.

Programming 469

theodp writes "Some people, writes Dave Winer, make the mistake of thinking that if the result of someone's work is easy to use, the work itself must be easy. Like the boss — or boss's boss's boss — who asks for your code so he can show you how to implement the features he wants instead of having to bother to explain things. Give the code to him, advises Winer. If he pulls it off, even poorly, at least you'll know what he was asking for. And if he fails, well, he might be more patient about explaining what exactly he wants, and perhaps even appreciate how hard your work is. Or — more likely — you may simply never hear from him again. Win-win-win. So, how do you handle an anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better boss?"

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It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Interesting)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661568)

Programmers themselves really often make the mistake of thinking that everyone else's job is simple and easy and doesn't require much knowledge, or that companies should be spending more resources on programmers and IT than other departments. Best example is sales and marketing people. Programmers think it is completely unnecessary, but quite frankly, they would perform really poorly trying to do that kind of work. And I say this is a programmer-since-I-was-a-kid, but only picked up some sales and marketing skills after becoming an adult (I run my own business).

I think I also know why programmers suck at sales and marketing people. Programmers, and geeks, quite often lack the social skills and knowledge of human psychology to succeed in it. I know I used to, and many slashdotters say they'd rather be left alone to work on code. Frankly, these are important skills. Programmers have the ability to read code, error messages and everything else that is presented to them as facts and clearly. They have the mindset of a computer, "do x, get y". What they lack is reading people and other things when it isn't presented to them in a straight, clear form. Programmers fail to see subtle hints and expressions. They need it in clear. Maybe it's a difference in brain or something. It's also why so many people with Asperger syndrome are overly fascinated by computers. They also cannot read subtly things, they need it in clear. Code, compiler messages and computers provide that.

Which is also why I don't understand why programmers and IT usually put down other departments like sales and marketing. Maybe because they don't understand that it is actually hard work, and requires learning just like you do with programming books. Yes, some people will be good at it naturally, but majority aren't. It's the same with programmers and pretty much anything. The fact is, sales and marketing is hard work. It's especially hard to do it correctly, as it's usually the sales and marketing people that are responsible for the product gaining any users.

You can have everything right in your product but if no one knows about it and if there's no one telling you what would your product improve on the persons work or life, then your product is almost useless. This same trend can be seen with Linux and to an extend with some Google (and other geeky companies) products. Just throwing something at wall to see if it sticks doesn't work. You need to do your research, you need to interact with your customers and most importantly, you need to provide them with something that actually fixes a need they have. "But GPL is free, and leads to code liberation" frankly doesn't cut it. Most people care about their own needs, and that does nothing about them. Sales and marketing people are good at researching, reading and telling people, from the customer point of view, that what would it fix in their lives, and it is an essential skill.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661588)

LOL, I don't suck at sales and marketing people. That would be sooo wrong!

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661634)

It's an error, the employees don't suck sales.
The employees try suck salaries but their salaries are pressured to minimum by the bosses for minimal spends of the company through the pressure of the contracts in advance before of starting to work (the improvements in the works are not recognized by the contracts).

So who suck the sales are the bosses, the CEOs, the executive table's members, the directors, etc.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661848)

NO. YOU SUCK! and even more so, because you use lolspeak and I am great.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661610)

Wow, you really have a thing for sales and marketing, don't you?

Personally I have plenty of social skills (although this may not be evident when I'm ranting on Slashdot) but I've also seen enough of the insides of sales and marketing departments to know I would never want to do that job. Even as a developer I've had to implement various schemes by these people and no matter how many times they smile like used car salesmen and repeat the "Oh, it's not lying or making them want something they don't need, we're simply making them understand that they needed something they didn't know they needed" mantra I can't shake the feeling that they're basically making a living preying on others.

I simply find both sales and marketing immoral (at least in the forms they commonly have in our society).

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661684)

I simply find both sales and marketing immoral (at least in the forms they commonly have in our society).

Sales and marketing is mostly finding out what a person needs, why he needs that and how they can help the person with it. It's also making it easier for customers to buy your services or products, and letting them know such product exists (to fix a need, again). What is so immoral about that?

I've stumbled upon many programmers who are trying to sell their products to customers but they lack total understanding of it. They want to spend time with the product, and almost loathe customers (which is shared feeling between lots of geeks and programmers). But you can't run a business like that. You need someone to take care of the customers and researching what their product can fix. "Here is the thing, maybe it does something for you" isn't really good selling point. You need to figure out and tell the customer what he would gain by buying your product or service, from the customers point of view.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661778)

If sales and marketing is about finding out what a person needs and a sales person finds out that what that person needs isn't something that they can supply, it is a rare sales and marketing person that will say so. They do exist. I speak to maybe one a year...

I regularly field calls from sales people trying to sell me stuff I don't need. It is a waste of my time. If these people were better at their jobs they would know that what I need is not to be talking to them.... I take a particular and instant dislike to the ones who try and setup meetings to discuss 'potential opportunities'. Particularly if they arrange the meeting themselves whilst talking at me and then try and end the call without actually having me agree to it. That is the perfect way to ensure I never place an order with your company.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661956)

Sales and marketing is mostly finding out what a person needs, why he needs that and how they can help the person with it. It's also making it easier for customers to buy your services or products, and letting them know such product exists (to fix a need, again). What is so immoral about that?

The immoral part is having to create an artificial need in order to make a living, or more direct: manipulating others to give you money. That doesn't apply to most sales representatives/consultants as they tend to have a single product and a direct relationship with the customer, but indirect sales and mass marketing are as immoral as can be.

I've stumbled upon many programmers who are trying to sell their products to customers but they lack total understanding of it.

(it=customer or product?)
Again, you're talking single product, direct interaction. Yes, there is value to that. Please tell me how you can tell every person in the world the same sales pitch and still be catering to their needs instead of yours.

Not exactly. (5, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661960)

Sales and marketing is mostly finding out what a person needs, why he needs that and how they can help the person with it.

Not really.

Sales/marketing is about finding out what a customer WANTS ... and then convincing the customer that he (she) NEEDS your product to be able to get whatever they want.

Radiate rockstar vibes all day long from the moment you hit the shower with AXE shower gel.

http://www.theaxeeffect.com/ [theaxeeffect.com]

You've probably seen the ads if you're in the USofA.

I've stumbled upon many programmers who are trying to sell their products to customers but they lack total understanding of it.

More likely they are trying to sell the product based upon the product's capabilities.

Not by claiming that it will provide (for example) the ability to "radiate rockstar vibes all day long".

They want to spend time with the product, and almost loathe customers (which is shared feeling between lots of geeks and programmers).

Not really. But it gets back to the "rockstar vibes" and the radiating of such for the duration of a day. The programmer is selling a product that he (she) has a concrete understanding of. Does the customer NEED the features in the program?

Meanwhile, the salesguy is selling the image of being a rockstar in industry X and how such a rockstar would need this program to achieve that. Whether it will actually accomplish anything like that or not.

You need to figure out and tell the customer what he would gain by buying your product or service, from the customers point of view.

Again, that is easy to do for the programmer.

But that is not how marketing/sales works. See the above Axe example.

Which is why the golf course is so often featured in the sales/marketing plan.

Re:Not exactly. (4, Informative)

olau (314197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662082)

Consumer-oriented sick TV ads are really only a small part of the picture, although that's what we mostly see.

It's the same with software development. Most people only interact with a few standard consumer software systems daily (like the OS, email program), but the reality is that most programmers aren't writing that kind of systems, they're writing custom software for businesses.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661990)

Sales and marketing is mostly finding out what a person needs, why he needs that and how they can help the person with it.

Do you really, honestly believe that this is what sales and marketing exists for? The world would look completely different if this were the case, starting with next to no advertising anywhere. What people need has virtually nothing to do with what companies manufacture, even most services they provide. What marketers and sales people really do is to create needs, by association of the product with unrelated feelings/emotions (cars/cigarettes and freedom, shower gel and sensuality, uniform phones and a sense of individualism, ...). Their job is to persuade people they need whatever the company is offering. I can't remember seeing any advertising saying "remember to call your friends" or "cook your own food, it's healthier".

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (3, Insightful)

buchner.johannes (1139593) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661690)

Well at some point when you have a product you want to make it known to people that it exists. Whether you force it down peoples throat or remain with the facts is a question of style.
So here you don't answer the question of whether marketing/sales is an important/necessary/hard job to do -- You don't like a common style of doing it.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

dintech (998802) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661926)

Write Java. (...like a boss!)
Do some sales. (...like a boss!)
Force it down your throat...

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662016)

Wow, what a prissy pants hypocrite you are.

If what sales and marketing do are immoral, you are equally immoral for building the products they ask for.

Really, is the carpenter at Auschwitz really less culpable than the administrators directing the people coming off the trains?

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

hawkinspeter (831501) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662078)

Building a product is very rarely immoral (maybe a product that can only be used in an evil way). Using a product for immoral purposes is immoral.

The carpenters and administrators at Auschwitz did nothing wrong. It's the people doing the killing that are wrong.

People aren't generally responsible for the world they find themselves in, but they are responsible for their own actions.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662084)

w-h-a-t. At the end of the day someone is using the code YOU coded in the way that YOU exposed through a UI for THEM. The ONLY one who can prey on them is YOU. If YOU didn't exist, they wouldn't be using YOUR code. If they have a shitty, inappropriate experience it's YOUR fault as the coder. Sales puts your code in front of a customer who tries to use it, and it ends there.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (3, Insightful)

ameen.ross (2498000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661652)

At the previous company I worked for I was the IT department. There were ~25 employees at the office and 10 shops with another 20 employees. There was more than average maintenance required for the equipment also, because of several reasons. One of them being that everything was poorly setup to begin with. I didn't even have the time to properly fix the setups (yes, multiple horribly setup systems) and I was already working overtime - unpaid.
The marketing manager was a girl with mediocre skills, you can probably guess why she got that position. Some of the other managers were actually up to scratch, but not all. On top of that, they were paid at least 3 times my salary.

This is about just one employee and one company, but I'm sure there are too many people out there who've had similar experiences.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (4, Insightful)

fred911 (83970) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661838)

"3 times my salary"

  Difference is you have a salary due to your marketing/sales department who generally don't have a SALARY.

IE: when they don't produce (income or work for you), they don't get paid.
   

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (2)

ameen.ross (2498000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661958)

So you're saying they can do their job without PC's, laptops and phones? By the same token, you could say that without me, they'd be out of work. This is why a company has - or should have - multiple departments, all working together.

By the way, they phased me out, they are selling parts of their company and can't find a buyers because people aren't that stupid. I, on the other hand, learned from the experience and now I have a much better development job and a much higher salary.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

ameen.ross (2498000) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661982)

Add to the list the intranet and websites. And marketing is not even a department every company needs. Administration is.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (4, Interesting)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661658)

Anecdote, to offer validity your point; A few years ago I was asked to implement a forum by my boss as part of a website we were building. I downloaded and implemented phpBB, and everything was hunky-dory. He invited me to the sales meeting to describe the product and demonstrate how easy it is to moderate and administrate.

I was asked how much this all cost, and I said "Well, we can't charge you for phpBB; It's free software. What you would pay is for the knowledge of setting it up and any support you require."

Thankfully the folks laughed and asked the sales guy the same question, but his face had gone the darkest colour of red I've ever seen a person go. I wasn't there much longer :D

I have no respect for sales staff; They are weasels barely any better than lawyers. I do, however, recognise that they make the money for the company by selling the stuff that's produced, and that they are a necessary evil which should be tolerated. Thankfully, working in the public sector, I don't have to deal with them.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661776)

From long experience, it's always best never to discuss costs with customers unless or until they ask you to do a foreigner for them. Then you ask them what they would pay your employers for the job and offer to do it for half that, in cash. Never fails ;-)

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Informative)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661852)

Well, maybe you think you shouldn't, but you can charge them. And the FSF actually says "we encourage people who redistribute free software to charge as much as they wish or can."

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661660)

I was with you right until the last paragraph. LOL, you really [slashdot.org] can [slashdot.org] turn _anything_ into anti-Google or anti-Linux spin, can't you?

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

DCTech (2545590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661708)

It's not an anti-Google or anti-Linux spin, those are just good examples that everyone knows. Linux is struggling to get market share, and while Google has successful products, they have tons of which they just cancel or someone never hears about (or has a reason to use). For example, see this story about the cancellation of Google Health [slashdot.org] . It's filled with people who haven't even heard about it, or didn't know why they'd use it.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661788)

Linux is struggling to get market share

No, it's not. Ubuntu is struggling to get market share. Most other distros simply aren't interested in that, they write for themselves and for whoever finds them useful.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661804)

Yes, and you always fiind negative "good examples" in Linux/Google world and positive "good examples" in MS world, however counterintuitive/controversial (really, "Linux sucks because command line, Ribbon is hands-down greatest interface innovation" [slashdot.org] ? Was this a good example in an article about FB privacy issues [slashdot.org] ?)

Sapienti sat. I'll stop now before we go too far off topic.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

Mick R (932337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661664)

Which is also why I don't understand why programmers and IT usually put down other departments like sales and marketing. Maybe because they don't understand that it is actually hard work, and requires learning just like you do with programming books. Yes, some people will be good at it naturally, but majority aren't. It's the same with programmers and pretty much anything. The fact is, sales and marketing is hard work. It's especially hard to do it correctly, as it's usually the sales and marketing people that are responsible for the product gaining any users.

My personal experience and that of others I have talked to suggests that IT people, being particularly rooted in facts and logic, have little respect for people who routinely dance around pulling promises out of their backsides about products they don't understand and then expect the coders to just "sort it out" because the marketoids think they are the only ones bringing money into the business. It's also the same marketoids that get bonuses for sales that wouldn't have been possible if the coders hadn't put in huge amounts of unpaid overtime modifying production code to include ( non existent) features that the marketoids promised the customer without consulting the production team first. Sales and Marketing deserve respect? When they learn to SHOW some respect and act like team players THEN they might deserve something other than justified contempt.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

kevingolding2001 (590321) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661754)

Oh, for the love of God, won't somebody with mod points please, please, please mod up the parent for producing this most eloquent and accurate description of marketing people everywhere.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1, Interesting)

chronosan (1109639) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661842)

Nobody tips the dishwasher.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661906)

It's also the same marketoids that get bonuses for sales that wouldn't have been possible if the coders hadn't put in huge amounts of unpaid overtime modifying production code to include ( non existent) features that the marketoids promised the customer without consulting the production team first.

Well, try to see it another way:
1) It's possible that the marketing team promised those features because it was the only way to sell the product. Your attitude seems to be going to the marketing/sales team and saying "This is what we made, go sell it, even if it's not what you could sell".
2) How is it their fault that you do unpaid overtime? Don't do it or ask for it to be paid.

PS. I'm a developer but I've been around. I've been in a couple of places where the software team wasn't listening about what the potential customers wanted (we were too full of ourselves to listening to sales I guess) and the places went down of course. By the way a potential customer is someone how has the money to buy the product and is able to make a purchasing decision. It's not another developer who think some feature would be cool to have for some reason.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662042)

A proper sales process involves consultation between the marketing and development teams to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that goals are realistic. Having salesman unilaterally make promises about features, scheduling, etc. to "seal the deal" is a largely destructive process and results in a lot of the animosity seen in these comments. It's not just the development team that suffers either; making empty promises runs a high risk of alienating your customers and having them decide to look at other vendors for products and services.

Both the development and sales teams may see the other as a means to an end, but that's really not the case. Both sides what the same thing (make money) and its in their best interests to work together to maximize that potential.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661968)

1) Sales would still be possible if you didn't do the work. Yes, you can be subbed out.
2) All cashflow comes from sales.
3) Your salary comes from cashflow.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (3, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661670)

I dont think it's that most programmers don't recognize that sales and marketing folks have a difficult job as well or that they think they could do it better. They have a different culture. Programmers don't generally have a sense of entitlement, sales and marketing people usually do. I think the way compensation is often done feeds into it. They all work on commission and they all are usually pitted against each other in some fashion with leader boards etc.

They come to us with that same strong incentive to have it yesterday and done to their satisfaction regardless of the resources needed, few companies manage to account for those costs specifically enough to tie it back to that sales guys margin and they know it.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661700)

Which is also why I don't understand why programmers and IT usually put down other departments like sales and marketing. Maybe because they don't understand that it is actually hard work, and requires learning just like you do with programming books.

It's not because the sales and marketing people suck at sales and marketing and engineers think they can do it better. It's because the sales and marketing people promise features to the customers before they've even been proposed to engineering. Or they will demand some ridiculous feature ONLY because a competitor product has it. The fact that the feature is stupid or takes resources away from implementing real features that would add value is irrelevant to them.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (3, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661962)

I think most sales and marketing people would say that "real features that would add value" is an ill-defined concept. There is the IT version of it where value is "cool idea of the week". There is also the sales-world definition : "$".

Programmer versus sales usually boils down to that point.

In reality, programmers hate customers. Especially the customers with the "do what I want" syndrome. Salespeople ... they're messengers with the message that programmer's worldview is radically wrong.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

complete loony (663508) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661718)

The biggest gripe most programmers have with sales people is when they sell a feature that doesn't exist yet for a price that doesn't cover the cost to implement it. And somehow the sales person gets a bonus and the programmer has to work long hours and ends up with a bad performance review.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661766)

Experienced programmers lose that attitude about the value of other employee's work in a company. Sure some of us laugh at the stupid shit marketing comes up with, but we also know they're just doing their job. We keep complaining about management, but we learn to speak their language and explain things in their terms if we want to succeed. Only arrogant fools keep thinking they're superior to everyone else.

And how could it be otherwise?

After you've spent a few years making mistakes and correcting bugs in your code, you either lose the ego that you're infallible, or you drown in a sea of egotistical misery.

When a bug report is filed, the experienced programmer thinks "Oh shit. What did I miss."

The junior programmer thinks "Damn users. Always complaining. They don't know how anything works."

Nothing but experience can burn the ego out of a programmer. And either it gets burned out of your system, or you get frustrated enough to quit the industry.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661884)

When a bug report is filed, the experienced programmer thinks "Oh shit. What did I miss."

The junior programmer thinks "Damn users. Always complaining. They don't know how anything works."

And what if your first thought is "Is this really a bug or was this intentionally designed this way? If it wasn't, should it still work as it does or should I change it?"

Re:When a bug report is filed... (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662040)

There's a whole angle you guys haven't covered yet.

There's tons of companies with aging products, but there isn't a next-generation replacement for them yet. So then really funny things happen in reverse. The sales side knows their product has horrible flaws and tries to weave smoke and mirrors to sell it anyway. Then they yell at the software team "why isn't that bug from last year fixed already?"

I'm not even talking about cool features of the week. A certain enterprise accounting package I use at work had a bug so bad that if you chose the wrong report menu option it crashed the entire program including the paid license allocator. It didn't get fixed for six months because the vendor only issued two update releases a year.

Less party-story side, that same package has a creaking 20 year old code base that they are desperately trying to overhaul while they (vendor) tries to put silk togas over the front of the pig hoping that it might still be Some Pig. The Vista switch nearly drilled them.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661792)

compiler messages

clear

wat

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661864)

Forget what "programmers themselves" think about OTHER people's jobs - programmers think this about their own jobs!! How often do you start something thinking it'll take half an hour, and it becomes a weekend project that you actually finish some time next week?

This goes for both code and systems administration. You often go on IRC after you've already tried doing something for a few hours or days, thinking it was no big deal. Of course, in retrospect, it isn't. Unless you can't get it to work at all, and give up after 40 hours - the most radical underestimation of all.

http://www.google.com/search?q=%22but+I+could+never+get+it+to+work%22+%2BLinux [google.com]

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661866)

If marketing and sales are so about understanding peolple....how comes that it's almost impossible to explain to marketing and sales that something they're asking cannot be done or that there is not enought time?!? What would be your conclusion? That coders are not people or that MKT and sales just do/ask what they want and expect the others to fill the gap? The first answer looks impossible the second one dosn't require any skill from MKT and sales.
Here, we are 10 coders and 30 MKT,sales and teachers, I'm the onlyone that speaks both languages, but apparently they all should do by what you are saying.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (5, Insightful)

shic (309152) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661868)

While I've met a few 'programmers' whose skill set is limited - requiring everything to be laid out in black and white... far more often, I find competent programmers are also deeply insightful analysts; innovative problem solvers; dedicated, hard-working and have an eye for accuracy and an ear for honesty. While you can resort to ad-hominem when people disagree with you, such attacks don't work on machines... with fallacious argument off-the-table, those who program are forced to exercise other skills.

I definitely respect sales and marketing - when it's done well. There's a real skill in creating a buzz about a product or service you can deliver - and in closing deals to generate revenue. However... this does not mean that anyone who associates themselves with sales or marketing is automatically above constructive criticism. A major problem for both sales and marketing is that there's a motivation to short-termism... Marketing can blame someone else if they create a buzz about a product that can never be delivered (and it's easier to get people excited about things that are impossible than the mundane...) Sales suffers from the ABC - "Always Be Closing" problem, too, where there is considerable motivation to promise anything, no matter how dishonest, to 'get the deal done' - especially when some convenient 'office politics' can lay the blame for any subsequent disaster at someone else's door.

The underlying problem with all this is management. If sales and marketing run amock - without clear instruction to the aims of the business - they'll run the company into the ground soon enough. Similar catastrophes hang in the balance with technical staff and R&D... Executives need to both respect their staff, and take responsibility for the big picture... They need to avoid the temptation to micromanage (which leads to inevitable failure); they need to learn to draw on the experience of others - and to delegate without washing their hands of a matter. Without suitable direction, you'll end up with a ramshackle bunch of people all blaming each other as the company fails... this is not the fault of the employees - per se... or, even, of day-to-day management... but of the executive. In large corporations where failure as an executive is rewarded similarly to success, we should expect this sort of organisation-wide failure to be endemic.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

jrminter (1123885) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661972)

Well put!

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662100)

While I've met a few 'programmers' whose skill set is limited - requiring everything to be laid out in black and white... far more often, I find competent programmers are also deeply insightful analysts; innovative problem solvers; dedicated, hard-working and have an eye for accuracy and an ear for honesty. While you can resort to ad-hominem when people disagree with you, such attacks don't work on machines... with fallacious argument off-the-table, those who program are forced to exercise other skills.

Most programmers (including those egotistical twits who call themselves "developers" or, god forbid, "software engineers") DO need everything laid out in black and white. They also start with the assumption that any problem is the fault of the "lusers" misunderstanding the software or unrealistic expectations.

"ear for honesty"? Are you kidding? "deeply insightful analysts"? What are you smoking? Most of them can barely dress themselves or make eye contact when talking with the users.

Try managing a team of programmers sometime, attempting to keep the coders from abusing the users, and management from firing them for unprofessional behavior.

Simple example, that happens ALL THE TIME - one of my team promise something that the business needs, announces it's done, but it's either not working quite right, or it wasn't actually deployed. If they realize it, they just go on their merry way, intending to "get around to it", and deploy it sometime in the next day or two. It never occurs to them to go to the users, explain what happened and why, and then to prioritize fixing it.

I've been teaching them, and they're starting to get it, but they simply don't know how to;
Correctly capture requirements (yeah and document them too)
Prove that the solution addresses all requirements
Properly unit test
Properly involve the users in UAT
Communicate schedules to users

You think that 'programmers' are born with these innate skills. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They have to be taught them, told why they have to use them, and then be held accountable if they don't.

You're just another nerd who thinks everyone outside your profession is incompetent. Look in the mirror.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661930)

Programmers have the ability to read code, error messages and everything else that is presented to them as facts and clearly. [...] Code, compiler messages and computers provide that.

Unknown error, code -73285251

Standard load letter.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661994)

Which is also why I don't understand why programmers and IT usually put down other departments like sales and marketing.

Perhaps programmers and IT don't like sales and marketing because---albeit being a necessary evil---sales and marketing is a very stupid and boring domain, in fact so boring and stupid that even the sales and marketing people don't really like it and just do it for the money? Just a guess.

Re:It's not only programmers vs bosses (4, Interesting)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662024)

I'll grant you that sales and marketing can be hard work. But they're a different KIND of hard work. You mention a few aspects of that yourself. So it's pretty hard to compare the two.

And you give yourself away when you say "programmers suck at sales and marketing". Maybe that was just a Freudian slip, but it sure looks like you intend to include most programmers in that category, and really that's unjustified stereotyping.

Take myself for example. I'm a programmer. But I like people. I like to be around people. I don't get along with everybody, but I get along with most people just fine (even, amazingly, on Slashdot). Certainly there are some exceptions. Frankly I think anyone who claims to get along with everybody is either lying or has some serious issues.

I have done sales. I have gone out representing organizations and pressed the flesh. I have led organizations. And I have done a bit of public speaking. And I did at least okay at all these things.

But I don't like sales and marketing. It's just not something I enjoy doing, which is completely unrelated to my ability to do it. And I have demonstrated that I can be pretty good at manipulating people, if I have to be. But I don't like doing it. So I choose to do something else. It's that simple.

I would also like to add my support to those who have commented here, that often it is sales and marketing people who are the clueless ones in an organization, and cause everybody else a lot of grief. Not all of them, by any means, or even most. But a significant number of them.

Re:how do you handle an anything-you-can-do-I-can- (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661594)

I started my own company.

seriously /. has gown this low (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661606)

seriously /. has gown this low

That's a very bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661612)

Giving (access to) the code to your boss is probably a very bad idea, unless you know he's a talented programmer of course.

The problem is that once is done with his (probably poorly written) code, he will consider the task as done. But by the time this code will need tweaking of fixing, he probably won't have the time or will to do it himself and it will be YOUR job to dive into this mess and sort things out.

If you're lucky enough that it's actually _your_ boss who is question, the you should really fight for better communication and for him letting you do the job correctly, explaining to him that its not as easy to write _good_ code as he thinks, etc. This, of course, might not be an easy task depending of how stubborn he is.

If on the other hand the request comes from a customer as it often happens to me, then you're probably screwed and will have to accept his code and live with it.

Re:That's a very bad idea (4, Interesting)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662030)

Assuming you're dealing with a non-programmer boss or board member, I'd be more worried about them shipping the code-base off to someone in India in an effort to save face (never-mind the fact that it's the companies latest flagship product, and the competition will have a copy of it before sunset). The board-member could just jump ship, and take the code with him, to start a new company (thanks for the lift, guys). Not like that doesn't happen all the time.

Letting your non-programmer boss / board member have unrestricted access to the code should rank up there with leaving them alone on a computer that has access to the financial's database. I'm not saying they won't twist your arm to get what they want, I'm just saying it does not bode well for the company.

Code can be surprisingly complex ... (0)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661620)

... I'd opened quite a few Wordpress scripts before I did anything beyond modifying lines in header.php, footer.php, index.php.

Re:Code can be surprisingly complex ... (2)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661702)

You don't say....

Well...... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661636)

I get fired for helping and doing my job!
Worked my whole life in this case, but I did it so I could join the company of my dreams (Google).

After 4,5 years they finally fired me for doing my job and living up to Google values and set standards. :)

So there is no real handling of the situation if you are planning on doing things right, there is only major loss and the satisfaction for yourself that you lost everything cause you do things right!

Conclusion....... You are not payed to think, shut up and do your job (this is static rule for any company)

really? (4, Insightful)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661656)

> Give the code to him, advises Winer.

I recall a more general advice from the series: don't upset people serving your food.

Re:really? (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662014)

Lol. In this economy, they think you can't find another job, so they can let it all hang out.

Human Resource Management Perspective (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661672)

As a Human Resource Manager I will tell you that this whole article merely displays the anti-authority attitude that many people in the IT field have. The author self-validates his own beliefs and cognitive biases by not only ignoring and fighting against his superiors, but by setting them up to fail. If the code (referred to in the article) were well written and commented, then the executive who took a programming course should have had no problem completing the task. Well written and structured code should be easy to modify and improve.

I personally always find resistance from IT people when trying to get them to do something. Usually they are just too lazy and stubborn to complete tasks in a time efficient manner. When I remotely monitor their computer screens, for example, I often see 1 or 2 minutes at a time when code is not being typed into the terminal. There is no excuse for such laziness. And many of them want to be paid for "over-time" when they don't complete their tasks in a time-efficient manner. But I tell you, if they don't bother to finish their tasks in the scheduled time then they shouldn't expect to get free money by working over time.

Many programmers in fact are socialists. I've noticed that many of them are against businesses and capitalism, as can be seen by their anti-SOPA, and pro-copyright-theft ideologies. If programmers would be smart enough then they wouldn't be programmers, they would be a boss like me telling them what to do. It's obvious that the people complaining about their superiors are just jealous.

I guess since this is Slashdot I can expect to be moderated down because people just can't handle the truth.

You are the problem, a big one sadly. (0)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661760)

When I remotely monitor their computer screens, for example, I often see 1 or 2 minutes at a time when code is not being typed into the terminal. There is no excuse for such laziness.

So you'd rather have a programmer write junk so that the terminal appears busy? Let me inform you that I can write a script to populate my terminal regularly, so that people like you get satisfied, while I continue to do what I want.

Remember that a big portion of getting good code written takes place in the head, not at the point of typing.

I remember times I had to think and obtain a particular solution while driving home, then get it implemented the moment I am at work. So as I am refreshing my mental faculties, people like you think I am wasting time! Coding is not that simple. Trust me. Why do you think there are bugs in software that are decades old? Is it because programmers are "lazy?"

Re:You are the problem, a big one sadly. (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661772)

GP is satire. Not even a troll.

Re:You are the problem, a big one sadly. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661806)

You are the problem, a big one sadly.

Dude, the fact that you can't tell satire from reality just gives credence to the prejudice that programmers lack "social skills".

The use of the word "socialist" alone should have Godwin-ed a hint at the whole reply. Though I should have put in that I base pay raises on the amount of code per page produced, or some other bullshit.

Yes it's true people really are like that fake HRM, but that's what should make it funny: when you can't tell ridiculous and absurdest humor from reality.

Re:You are the problem, a big one sadly. (4, Funny)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661816)

o <-- joke here

.
.

o <-- you here

Re:You are the problem, a big one sadly. (2)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661936)

Hush. Use market discrimination, as they teach in microeconomics. If your market is filled with people who might have trouble locating the ON switch to their machines, use lots of pastels in your program, and spend half your time polishing the UI (yes, you need a GUI, in this instance, it's not optional). If your market is filled with people who know how to program, focus on the background stuff, and use a CLI (unless you like GUIs, at which point, go with that).

And programmers do appear lazy to people of other fields -> more than half your programming career is spent in your head, trying to solve a problem or trying to break your program. Why? Because using pencils and paper is too slow. There isn't a programmer alive whose brain (outside of a terrible accident) isn't the equivalent of the latest generation CPU overclocked to dangerous levels. Other people just see you sitting in your chair, lightly pampered, with a comfortable salary and / or stock options (back in the day), speaking in gibberish and getting awfully excited about things that 1.) they don't understand, 2.) they do not care about, and 3.) are not POPULAR. Popular amongst programmers, yes, but popular amongst the populace, I think not (unless you've styled yourself as a h@x0r). As a programmer, you don't even get real vacations; it's almost impossible to leave your work at work -> it's all in your head, and your mind will keep trying to solve that one annoying problem even on a beach filled with a plethora of naked women and copious amounts of alcohol / weed / whatever. Kind of like Watchmen, with Dr. Manhattan -> you can be physically there with your girlfriend, but mentally in another universe. Most of the time without trying (not because you're bored, but because you're watching a movie and she has her back to you; your brain just schedule stuff into every free time slot it can acquire).

I'm going to use a religious comparison here, and say that people want from programmers the same thing they want from their gods -> they want a show. If the Almighty were to take a stroll amongst the people today, they'd be peppering him with requests for parlor tricks (make water into wine, walk on water, break out the 12 plagues or whatever); the same currently applies to programmers -> the people want a GUI that sings and dances, that has little bouncing icons and transition effects, dancing babies and farting pigs; they do not care about anything else. Bread and circuses.

   

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (3, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661796)

I'm awarding you the Slashdot Satire Award for the day. It's not expensive, consisting of an opened can of tuna that's gone ripe, but the sentiment is hearty.

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661812)

If someone is a troll, but really funny, should that be modded down as "troll" or modded up as "humour"? (That said, if I had a real "Human Resource Manager" like that, I can promise that we would have a meeting behind the bike shed, and I would totally give up my usual non-violent attitude).

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661862)

I think he deserves a "+5, Troll".

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (2)

The Askylist (2488908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661836)

Epic troll.

Could almost have come from some of the worst HR people I have had the misfortune to meet - congrats.

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661902)

MAFIAA shill spotted. Have a good day.

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (1)

empty_other (1116615) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661914)

You should probably tag this as a joke, because these kind of people do actually exist. Though they usually dont read /. afaik.

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661934)

Nope, you should be left unmoderated because you are a troll.

However I am in a good mood today, so you get a cookie.

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661946)

R U ON CRACK???

Re:Human Resource Management Perspective (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662038)

I personally always find resistance from IT people when trying to get them to do something

A funny post, but there's a lot of truth to this part. IT is a "no" department; we (I am in IT myself) have gotten great at telling other why something is impossible or why something shouldn't be done. When faced with change, we come up with issues and blockers rather than solutions. In my experience, other departments like Legal, Marketing & Sales etc often start out in the same manner, but it is easier to switch them from problem mode to solution mode. IT is more stubborn and arrogant about things that go against the current way of thinking and way of doing things.

What about the other side? (5, Interesting)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661678)

You can have everything right in your product but if no one knows about it and if there's no one telling you what would your product improve on the persons work or life, then your product is almost useless. This same trend can be seen with Linux and to an extend with some Google (and other geeky companies) products

Chrome has issue 44106, which despite countless requests [google.com] for an implementation, was labeled "Won't Fix".

One developer says:

"Commenting on this bug has absolutely no effect at all on the likelihood that we are going to reconsider."

Then goes further to say:

"We made the decision not to make this configurable long, long ago, even before we WontFixed this bug in comment 59 (over a year ago itself). Accordingly the bug is closed because that reflects not only our current stance but the position we've had for a very long time."

So thus "bug" sounds like a feature! Now, talk of listening to customers.

And of course the user is never a whiney bitch (5, Informative)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661742)

Chrome was designed a certain way, if you don't like the design, then don't use it. What next, you are going to file bug reports with Ford because you want only 2 wheels on your car and four is a bug?

Why can't I file a bug with MS for making windows have the close button on the top right where I don't want it and no way to change it?

A bug is something where something does not work as intended.

When something is working as intended but you want it to work a different way, that is called a feature request. And yours was turned down. Google, MS and nobody else owes it to you to implement YOUR feature requests in THEIR product. If you want to dictate how a program should be designed, pay its development.

But of course that won't wash with your sort, everyone should do everything exactly as you want it for no pay.

Easy bet that you yourself have never done anything for anyone else ever in your entire life.

Re:And of course the user is never a whiney bitch (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661770)

I will not debate you on what is, and is not a bug. You are 100% right. But why didn't this programmer inform users that what they are talking about is a feature? I am sure they would understand. Simple.

Re:And of course the user is never a whiney bitch (4, Insightful)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661822)

The bug reporter said it himself:

Note: There was no option under Template to set this as a feature instead of a defect report.

So why would the programmer inform the user of what he already knew?

It's not a bug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661790)

Thank god for that, I've always hated those moveable bars, they always get messed up. I wish someone would choose the best place for them and keep them like that. So I agree with the design choice of the Chrome team.

The worst possible design is where you make it configurable, then people mess it up, so you create an option to make it lockable. a-la Windows start bar.

Good for them

Re:What about the other side? (4, Informative)

arkhan_jg (618674) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661952)

It's a feature request/design change, not a bug. One that changes the layout of the browser quite considerably by shifting the tabs below the url bar; which given that's where addons and bookmarks live, may well have other impacts on the code.

Google have decided that they don't want to implement such a design option, even if that annoys the 602 people who've starred the bug report. C'est la vie.

Re:What about the other side? (1)

Soluzar (1957050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661976)

Bugfix: Don't use Chrome. I find this solution eminently satisfactory.

Be a swan (4, Interesting)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661698)

Be like a swan paddling upstream. Graceful on the surface, but working like crazy underneath. I don't buy into the idea of embarrassing your boss by making him look stupid. Who is that going to help? Certainly not the person who made him look a fool. When it comes to promotion/pay raise time, who is going to get the bacon? The complainer who makes his superiority known, or the guy who shuts up and gets the job done without fuss?

Re:Be a swan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661998)

When it comes to promotion/pay raise time, who is going to get the bacon?

The manager?

Re:Be a swan (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662002)

Depends on the boss, but reality is if you don't have a decent boss (one you can respect for his technical prowess, sharp thinking, and managerial capabilities), it's time to jump ship. Trying to get your boss fired will in all likelihood result in two things: 1.) you burning a bridge and 2.) you getting fired instead.

The current mindset amongst the business people is that programmers are a dime a dozen -> one is interchangeable for another, and that someone in a third world country can do your job for less (so they imagine that they have you up against a wall). Inform them of the difference by quitting, and let the new guy try to find his way through your code (carefully documented or otherwise, any decent project will take several months for him to catch up on).

Promotions are kind of a joke for the last several years -> it's easier to get a pay raise and recognition by floating your resume than believing that being a good / helpful / quiet person will somehow advance your career.

Again, if you're dealing with a boss or a team who are simply not on the same page (and resist change), jump ship. The programmer's greatest liability is his desire to be like the Marines, to leave no man (project) behind. Once cured of this weakness, you will advance in life. It's the same as when you stop offering free technical support (to all but your closest colleagues)-> you suddenly get your free time back.

Damn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661746)

It's me you're talking about, right?

Sales sucks, regardless of its necessity. (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661768)

Salespeople think that techies are ten a penny and they prattle on about social skills, as though having a conversation is some sort of talent.

I would argue, at considerable length and with many resources to back me up, that knowing how to code properly and deliver working software applications is a significantly harder skill to master than reading through what competitors have to offer and simply know what else is available in the same field. The programmers generally know all this stuff too, it is after all their job to produce it, they just don't want to tell people about it because if you are looking to buy something... and this is the clincher... why don't you already know about these things yourself?

I am amazed that people actually listen to sales people. When I want something, I research it, find the best price and buy it from the best looking combination of reputable dealer / lowest price. Very simple. If all people did this then there would be no need for sales at all. As is fairly obvious, I am a programmer, but I also run my own company. My sales team is constantly changing because they keep failing to meet the sales numbers that I used to get when I was starting up. Even with a start up I could out sell these "veteran salesmen". When people used to call me and ask the same questions over and over about my software, I used to just send them the catalog and tell them what else was available. It is very simple. Do it with a smile, give a cup of coffee when they come in, take them to the nice room in the office with the potted plant and the meaningless nonsense on the walls and hey presto! An idiot bought something that they already wanted and, for some reason trusted someone, who is making money off of them only when they buy from him, to tell them what is the best option.

Therefore, sales people exist because most people are stupid. It is no wonder that the sales staff hate the programmers. They generally incapable of doing the programmers job though lower IQ and capabilities (you know it's true). They also realize but openly deny that most programmers simply refuse to speak to customers because customers ask the stupidest questions that don't warrant a reply, instead insisting that all techies are autistic troglodytes. Sales also have to deal with idiots asking the same questions day in, day out. Knowing all this, and dealing with all that they deal with, it is no wonder they get pissed off at the people who are capable of actually creating something useful, who get to sit away from the idiocy of the consumer, in their own little world where they actually get some level of job satisfaction.

I imagine the pay difference also adds a little salt to these wounds.

Sales sucks. It is the refuge of people who think that being able to get people to buy something they already want is a skill.

Scammers and psychopaths at the top (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661800)

Did it ever occurr to the guy that he was being conned? I mean: he gave marketable software code to a board member he never heard from again?! I wonder how much he made selling the code to the competition...

Re:Scammers and psychopaths at the top (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661832)

I thought about something similar. Is the programmer actually authorized to reveal that code to just anyone in the company? Can a developer actually take all his code, put it on a memory stick, and give it to the janitor? Highly unlikely. I would never reveal code from a project I am working on to anyone else not in my team.

Know it all bosses = more pay (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661840)

I had a boss that thought he could configure a Cisco switches for an after hours rollout. He bragged about how he had budgeted 3 days to do the configs but finished them in 4 hours and spent the rest of the time watching anime. We get them installed and he had done the DHCP config wrong. Meanwhile 3 of us are waiting for him. This goes on for a few hours then he decides to use Windows 2K3 for the DHCP. He wouldn't even let anyone else look at the configs. I was a contractor but the other 2 guys were salary. They were pissed at having to wait around from 7PM to 11PM after a full work day (no O/T, no comp time). I was the hourly contractor on the team that was getting overtime so I was happy. I seem to run across the know-it-all bosses quite frequently at small companies. I think at larger companies management is more specialized so you have a business admin type vs. the promoted sys-admin or network-admin at smaller companies.

This is just a general problem with people (5, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661846)

They assume anything they don't know how to do must be easy. Programmers are just as vulnerable to it, perhaps even more so. Many programmers suffer what what I call Smartest Motherfucker in the Universe Syndrome. They seem to feel that they are way smarter then everyone else, way better at what they do, and as such could do anything better.

You can see it all the time on Slashdot when you see people whine about why a company won't just magically make everything secure or bug free. These people falsely assume it is easy to do and that if they were the ones in charge they could do it easily. They either falsely believe their own code to be completely bug free or more often believe that what they do is really hard, but what the other guy does is easy.

It just seems to be a human condition for many people. When someone else is responsible, they figure it is easy to do and cannot understand why that person won't just do it.

So that bosses have it too is unsurprising, but let's not pretend like it is just a management problem. Heck, you can see the problem manifested in the attitudes many people have towards management. They think it is easy and/or useless and they could do it better. Actually being a good manager is quite difficult and hence there are plenty of bad ones, particularly since it is a different skill from being a good worker. You can promote a good worker in to management and find them a bad manager because it is a different skill, one they aren't good at.

Re:This is just a general problem with people (1)

Ynot_82 (1023749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661940)

You can see it all the time on Slashdot when you see people whine about why a company won't just magically make everything secure or bug free

When you see reports of some company having their customer database stolen, and all the record fields (inc. account password and financial info) are stored in plain, readable text; you're saying this is acceptable, are you?

I can accept the fact it may be "hard" to do something properly
Perhaps you've been doing it wrong for a long time, and many inter-connecting processes within the company depend on this "wrong" operation
But seriously, when you're talking about the security of your customers, if you can't do it right because it's "hard" (oh boo-hoo), then shut the system down.
You've proved yourself incompitent to do it properly, it's obviously hard for you to do, so don't do it
Do something else you're actually good at

Re:This is just a general problem with people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661966)

Excellent advice. As a long time Architect about to be promoted to the executive ranks, I recently read "The First Time Manager", which can still be found on USENET I'm sure. Your advice could have come right from the pages of that book.

Or a fourth possiblility... (1)

Maow (620678) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661892)

From TFA:

Give the code to him, advises Winer.

  1. 1) If he pulls it off, even poorly, at least you'll know what he was asking for.
  2. 2) And if he fails, well, he might be more patient about explaining what exactly he wants, and perhaps even appreciate how hard your work is.
  3. 3) Or — more likely — you may simply never hear from him again.

Or, 4) he cannot understand the code, blames the code and, by extension, you, and you life gets more difficult. Personally I agree to give the code - who knows what their hidden competencies are, but option 4 is possible. Them's the chances you take...

Re:Or a fourth possiblility... (2)

jginspace (678908) | more than 2 years ago | (#38661984)

Read TFA, this is a company that had just been bought out by Symantec. Quote: "I had already been sidelined ... it was a constant struggle for me to get the features I wanted in the product from a devteam I built. And a codebase I wrote, but no longer managed." - nobody is going to blame you in this situation.

Bosses define 'better' (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38661938)

Your boss gets to define what 'better' is, so it's a battle you can never win.

Last project I had, I wrote 80% of my teams code, was involved in all aspects of the design and the end product was a big success as a result. What do you imagine would happen for the next version?

a) I am empowered.
b) I am dis-empowered.

Yep, b), excluded from design meetings, told my input isn't wanted, and that I was exaggerating my contribution. I decided the best thing to do at that point was to leave. I could see some of the choices they'd made were train wrecks. Although I offered them alternatives that would deliver the same feature in a way that wouldn't break the product, they weren't even discussed. The meeting had already taken place, the people 'in-the-know' had made their choices and entrenched their positions.

What did I know, only all the algorithms they would break by their bad choices. If only the people making the decisions had been the type than can understand algos, I, or one of the other programmers could explain it to them, but they weren't and we couldn't.

I hear I am to blame for the current mess in the project. Bosses are always right, and just re-write history if needed.

'better' is defined by you boss right up until his project is cancelled.

Personality and priorities (4, Interesting)

Archtech (159117) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662000)

The way I see it, the human race evolved with certain abilities - but not everyone has all those abilities and inclinations to equal degrees. Thus, we have the familiar broad categories of extrovert and introvert, for instance. Everyone has seen extreme cases. Like the extrovert who can't be happy unless surrounded by people, talking, winding each other up, having relationships... always something happening. Or the introvert who hates social occasions because it's so hard to get a word in edgeways, and even then the wrong words somehow seem to pop out of your mouth so your clever pick-up line comes out as an offensive slur, or your clever joke falls flat because the timing is off. Much easier and better to stay alone reading, coding, watching moves, and maybe drop someone an email from time to time.

Guess what? Sales and marketing people tend to be extroverts, and programmers tend to be introverts. It's not a perfect correlation, of course - there are outstanding exceptions, and some perfectly bloody people seem to be good-looking, sociable, popular, good at sports, clever, and able to accomplish huge amounts working either alone or in a team. But it seems to me that sales and marketing are merely extensions of a natural human ability that most of us have to varying degrees: the ability to persuade, to manipulate people, to make oneself liked. Most really good salespeople know the important rule that the first thing you must sell is yourself; once clients like you, they want to help you and do what you suggest, and half the battle is won. (Incidentally, politicians tend to be consummate salespeople, which is why so few of them are introverts - and those few who are don't usually get very far).

Meanwhile, a lot of introverts end up studying and working a lot - because they don't have the urge to be partying and socialising - and become experts in relatively solitary subjects such as science, math, and programming. In the process, they learn the central importance of intellectual integrity - in other words, respect for objective truth. To an engineer building a ship or a bridge, or a programmer developing a suite of code, the facts are mostly clear, solid, and not up for debate. This is the core running gag in Dilbert: the engineers share a vast body of scientific facts and figures, which is their common heritage. In contrast, the PHB is a quintessential salesperson/manipulator. To him, it's hardly important if something is true or false; all he cares about is whether it will get him what he wants.

Our future - if we have one - depends on developing our ability to think scientifically. That means logically, honestly, objectively, and with intellectual integrity. Everything you think you know should be open for discussion, and when someone else demonstrates that one of your opinions is wrong, you should be pleased because now you know more and you have shed a false belief. Unfortunately, clear honest objective thinking is as alien to human nature as breathing air is to the average fish. Long ago, as we know, some primitive fish scrambled out of the water and gradually gained the ability to breathe air and stay on land for longer and longer periods - and from them sprang the whole immense diversity of air-breathing life we see around us today. But even air-breathing land-living mammals still enjoy a refreshing swim (providing there aren't any man-eating sharks around). Just so, even when people have learned to think regularly, clearly, and honestly, that doesn't mean they will lose their emotions and the ability to "groom" one another and enjoy socializing. But it does mean we'll get our priorities right, and decide important issues by scientific thinking, not by crocodile-brain manipulation of other people's emotions.

A lot of jobs are like this (5, Interesting)

jht (5006) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662032)

I think Winer's story extends out to a myriad of professions (mainly technical ones, but plenty of others). If an observer doesn't understand the work you do, they think it can't be too hard. Most folks overestimate their own abilities. I run a small IT company - we've got a few employees of varying skill sets but all pretty good at solving network issues. But I still regularly see clients complain about how long a task takes, or how a five-minute fix couldn't have been that hard. Car repairmen still get bitched at by people about a $200 bill to replace a tiny part.

There are good programmers, there are great programmers, and there are assuredly mediocre programmers. But that's what they do - and they are guaranteed to know more about it than virtually any layperson. Just because your car runs does not mean you know how to build a car. If your lawyer gets you off the hook for a crime you didn't commit, does that mean you could be a lawyer?

It takes very little skill to stock shelves in a grocery store. But a person who is doing that for a living definitely is better at that task than we are. More people need to understand this basic fact.

Of course, then people would be convinced that they were better at understanding facts.

i dont agree with it (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662052)

i totally disagree
they do their wish only,and dont care for others
google [google.com]

Interessted in code? (1)

XrayJunkie (2437814) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662056)

My boss is not interessted in code. Just if there exists enough/sufficient tests. He assumes that the code fulfills all requirements (e.g. maintainabilty). Why should he read through it?

as a manager (4, Insightful)

Phoenix666 (184391) | more than 2 years ago | (#38662072)

This solution works for me too. Hand the code over. If it's clear you know what you're doing and have covered all the angles, I'll leave you alone. But even if you do know what you're doing it often helps to get perspective from someone who isn't so close to the work. And sometimes the boss has seen a lot of stuff you haven't and can open up new approaches for the experienced coder, too, because most people only learn what they have to know to get the job done and move on, so it's possible the boss has seen things that have been outside your critical path.

However, there are also a great many coders out there who honestly don't know their ass from their elbows and program by rote. This phenomenon has grown exponentially since the tech industry decided to outsource all work to India and China and insource H1-B's from India and China. So having a boss closely manage code development is often the only thing standing between endless spec minutiae and getting something to market.

Your mileage may vary.

Bad advice! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38662080)

> Give the code to him, advises Winer.

I did that. Gave my sweet PHP code to him.

What I got back was a rewrite in JSP... :(

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