[plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

From: Jos Koot (jos.koot at telefonica.net)
Date: Sun Aug 26 02:26:33 EDT 2007

Hi Richard,
I quit working (for money that is) about 10 years ago.
I don't know what happened to the L.A. Unified payroll.
What I wanted to point at is that, as I have seen lots of times for myself and 
other people, that in a big project of any kind, not only in automatization, the 
organization of that project is of major importance for succes. I only wanted to 
show a simplified caricature of a situation in which the interests of managers 
at the top and executives on the floor are not well alligned. The bigger the 
organization, the greater the chance that interests at different levels of the 
organization are going to conflict with each other and communication goes from 
multidirectional to bidirectional or even to to unidirectional. I have seen 
managers taking decisions with the so called 'helicopter vision', attaching 
prestige to their project, not able to foresee technical (or other kinds of) 
problems but thrusting that the 'details' will be sorted out by the techniciens. 
Of course we need management with vision beyond what has been done before, but a 
wise management asks for studies and takes the reports seriously before taking 
decisions that cannot be reversed. It even may happen that a manager or 
important client briefly looks into a report and not seeing what he or she had 
hoped for, asks the professional to addapt the report such as to better fit with 
the decisions that had already been made before the studies where ordered. (As 
you may have guessed, I have been in that situation, but, stubborn as I am, did 
not addapt my report :)
I did not study the case of the L.A. Unified payroll and probably I am not 
qualified to claim the competence for making such a study. Therefore I cannot 
have even the slightest idea of what went wrong there.
Jos Koot

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Richard Cleis" <rcleis at mac.com>
To: "Jos Koot" <jos.koot at telefonica.net>
Cc: "PLT Scheme" <plt-scheme at list.cs.brown.edu>
Sent: Sunday, August 26, 2007 5:24 AM
Subject: Re: [plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers

>I fully admit that I work in an environment that is less job- threatening than 
>others.  Hopefully, that doesn't disqualify me from  asking: Do you work in 
>your described scenario?  How many people do  you know of that do?
> rac
> On Aug 25, 2007, at 10:57 AM, Jos Koot wrote:
>> Manager: you are overdue on your time schedule. The delivery was  scheduled 
>> for three month ago.
>> Skilled programmer: I know, but I six month ago I asked some  clarifications 
>> on the specs, but up to now I received none.
>> Manager: The specs are clear and right, for I made them myself.
>> Skilled programmer lookes unconvinced.
>> Manager: What do you have got so far?
>> Skilled programmer: I have some working code, but since the specs  are self 
>> contradicting, the code is too.
>> Manager: Why didn't you tel me earlier? We release it at once.
>> Skilled programmer: But, ...
>> Manager: If you have buts you can consider yourself fired.
>> Skilled programmer thinking: for himself:: His salary is more  important than 
>> the quatlity of the products we deliver.
>> Skilled programmer thinking for himself: But I have a family to  suport; what 
>> can I do about it?
>> We: Ignore incompetent management. Make a front. An incompetent  manager can 
>> acheive nothing when being ignored by the skilled ones.
>> Jos Koot
>> ----- Original Message ----- From: "Richard Cleis" <rcleis at mac.com>
>> To: "PLT Scheme" <plt-scheme at list.cs.brown.edu>
>> Sent: Saturday, August 25, 2007 6:06 PM
>> Subject: [plt-scheme] Perplexed Programmers
>>> A tenth of a billion dollars was spent on a payroll system that   doesn't 
>>> work because "complicated, varied job assignments and pay   scales have 
>>> perplexed computer programmers."
>>> http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me- payroll25aug25,0,630079.story? 
>>> track=mostviewed-storylevel
>>> As computers and computer science mature, these stories (and my  own 
>>> trivial experiences) get worse.  What's going wrong?
>>> Oh, never mind.  This forum is for cheerier topics... like what  kind  of 
>>> Mean Scheme Machine could be built for the 37M$ that will  be spent  on 
>>> fixing the 95M$ problem.
>>> rac
>>> "Heyyy, there's a *New* Mexico." -- Homer Simpson, encountering a   need for 
>>> lifted definitions.
>>> _________________________________________________
>>>  For list-related administrative tasks:
>>>  http://list.cs.brown.edu/mailman/listinfo/plt-scheme

Posted on the users mailing list.