Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Frog is Dead

The Frog is Dead

As you might recall, some time back I took a somewhat philosophical approach to life here at work. I felt a tear form in the corner of my eye as I remembered the good old days. Quarterly bonuses. Year end raises. Compensation for on-call coverage. Hundreds of hours in accrued time off. Training. Employee stock purchase plan that actually made money. Stock options that were usable. Life was good. I suggested that we were like a bunch of frogs in a pot of water. As each benefit was stripped away, the water temperature rose. However, since the changes were strung out over years, we didn't notice the change in the water. It still felt good to be in the water. Who cared if it was getting hotter?

This train of thought missed a piece of the puzzle. I failed to realize the benefits of working in a sane environment. We used to do things that made sense. It didn't require a committee to make a decision. What we did made a difference. People listened, and we got things done.

Now, we live in sad times. When a project or need comes up, we have no input. In fact, any sense of sanity has been tossed out.

Let's say we have a need for a wheel. We've been using wheels for years. They are round, they are useful for moving things around. Everybody knows how to use the wheel. We have years of experience with wheels.

We check into things, and sure enough, the wheel still works for this new need. We even decide to use an existing wheel, thus eliminating the need to purchase an additional wheel.

Word of this recommendation goes up into the nebulous hierarchy. The decision is made to no longer use wheels. Our new model requires the use of only square solutions. We try to explain the shortcomings of the square approach, but to no avail. We will be using the square.

Things are worse. All our wheel expertise has been moved off to other projects. We have basically no skill sets with the square, but are expected to use it. Our customers are confused. They paid for the wheels, they want to use them, and now we are telling them no more wheels?

Worse yet, we have lost most of our contacts with our customers. They are all gone. We now have no direct voice with the customers, and no developers with which to team up.

Far worse is the fact that we have lost our voice in our own hierarchy. The voices of reason have been squashed. The square regime is fully entrenched, and we lack the power to do anything about it.

We have been shackled with chains of gold. We can't afford to go find another wheel shop. We are now enslaved wheel experts in a sqaure world. Our only choice now is to ride this ship until it sinks. We will continue to arrange the deck chairs on this Titanic, even as the ship tips farther and farther. The life boats are launching for some. We've seen a number of good people escape recently. Sadly for most of us, there is no life boat. Just a giant square hole waiting to swallow us up.

The water boiled, and we didn't even notice.

The frog is dead.

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