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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm Working for Idiots

At work, they hired a new manager/investor to shake up the development group. The Rails project is obviously a disaster, to everyone but my boss. My boss maintains his "Rails is awesome! This project is a success!" fantasy.

The new manager is now advocating for a small consulting company that has a tool that lets you "Develop your website without any programmers! Just drag and drop!" My employer's product is sufficiently different from their template to make it useless. The amount of effort required to customize their product would be equal or greater than for us to roll-our-own.

This is an aspect of "nepotism capitalism". The new manager probably has a financial interest in the small consulting company. Therefore, he is advocating for it instead of a correct solution. Due to the Principal-Agent problem, it doesn't matter if he's making the right choice or not.

The owners have merely replaced one snake oil salesman with another snake oil salesman. My current boss fraudulently says "Rails is awesome!" The new manager is fraudulently saying "This small consulting company will solve all our problems!"

Why must I be the meat in an ***hole sandwich?


Anonymous said...

Because, you are selling your time. What should you care if the project going in the right direction or not? Moreover, why do you think your opinion should matter?

I enjoy reading you, don't get me wrong, but just as you, from time to time I catch myself as being pissed at my boss. Then I calm down and ask myself, who asked me what I think and what is the reason I am mad even if I do work for an idiot?

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes the bosses' idiocy is a threat to your livelihood.

FSK is a programmer. The new boss is touting an approach that says "Develop your website without any programmers! Just drag and drop!" In other words, the new boss is saying they don't need FSK on the payroll.

The new boss is an idiot. A tool which promises to eliminate the need for programming (or other work by creative professionals) will never produce anything but the lowest common denominator result. Certainly not anything which will stand out in the marketplace, because the competitors will have the same tool too.

FSK is right about another thing: such tools are Procrustean beds, which typically fail to address the unique aspects of any non-trivial application.

Anonymous said...

>>What should you care if the project going in the right direction or not?

Because doing something you don't care about or can't get behind is soul sucking. I don't consider it "selling my time" either. And I do think my opinion matters. Those are very "wage slave" (to use an FSK term) thoughts:

"I'm just here to do my job, no matter what it is, as long as I get my paycheck. And if I don't like it, I can find another job. But while I'm here, it's pointless of me to complain."

I do a job because I take pride in my work, find enjoyment in doing something well, and using my mind to create something useful. If an idiot boss is going to get in my way of that because all he is concerned with is not getting railed on by higher-ups, then ya, I think I have every right to take issue with his idiocy. If they decide my comments are not useful, or I decide there is no longer a chance of impact, then I'll move on to a different job.

Doing what the boss said just because the boss said it is silly in my book. Ya, I probably wouldn't last a second in some jobs, but oh well; having an independent thought and being more than just a worker bee is actually important to some employers.

eagledove9 said...

Everything you've been saying about the Rails disaster reminds me of the time when I worked for a startup company that went bankrupt and shut down, in 2001. You even said yourself that this project was a 'startup killer.'

The company I worked for was a recruiter. We used the internet to search for resumes online, and get people hired for technical jobs. Then, as this wasn't as profitable as he wanted it to be, he started making his own website to do it.

The management became delusional when their money losses became so severe, it was obvious the business would never get out of debt and would have to shut down. The owner was going to be stuck with the debt after going bankrupt. During the 'delusional' phase, they desperately tried ANY crazy thing to magically earn huge profits while spending nothing at all. They started trying to automate everything more and more so they wouldn't need to employ anybody - just like your new drag-and-drop website builder that doesn't need programmers.

The whole startup was built on borrowed money. Over time, the payoff, the profits, had to get more and more huge to balance out the ever-increasing debt.

The owner did eventually go bankrupt and we all got laid off. He started working out of his home instead of from an office and he re-hired a few people to use the computers in his home. I worked there for a while but eventually left because I had some personal problems going on in my life.

Your situation, everything you've said, sounds SO SIMILAR to all that happened at that job, that if I were you, I would be definitely concerned about the business going bankrupt. It is likely that you will have to look for another job.

And the owners will be stuck with a big debt - I feel bad for them. My boss seemed so sad and confused afterwards - he couldn't understand why the 'irrational exuberance' of the dotcom boom had suddenly disappeared. Everyone had hoped that it was a great opportunity, but it was a terrible disaster.

I hope this turns out okay for you and the company.

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