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When management feels out of control: the truest test of leadership skill πŸ”—
1640314002  

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A common occurrence in firms is that the production line will innovate in a way which breaks the underlying assumptions baked into the heads of those in authority. Oftentimes in software projects serving said production lines, this is manifested by a User Interface that evolves in emergent ways beyond that which was envisioned by the data model. When this inevitably leads to undefined behavior, something breaks. Sometimes, it's at an inconvenient time and the impossibly hungry judges effect kicks in. (As an aside regarding that article, "hangry people" is the most valid cause for any statistical phenomenon I've ever heard).

As such, they're on the hunt for scalps. Which means if your name is on the commit, doing the right thing and explaining the actual root cause is almost always the wrong thing. Especially when the cause is, such as in this case, due to a breakdown in communication between management and the managed. The most likely result of this is simply that coups will be counted upon you for not doing what is really wanted: a signal of submission.

Even offering a patch which will solve the immediate problem won't help. If it has come to this point they will have an emotional need to seize direct control, consequences be damned. Woe unto you if you offer the only correct solution with your patch, as that means they will choose the wrong thing simply out of spite.

Having seen this happen repeatedly in my years in corporate, it's never gone any other way. Indeed, this is yet another scenario explicitly discussed in Moral Mazes, which was written when I was knee high. Which comes to the important question: why after all these years do I persist in my impertinence? Why continue to offer sound root cause analysis, even when it is embarrassing for all involved?

Because it's worth the risk to get people mad at you. Most of the time this ends in summary termination. Sometimes, it results in sober second thought, which would not have happened without the emotional spike caused by "rubbing it in". It's best that this happens sooner rather than later when working with someone, as people who don't course correct here are ultimately incapable of greatness. I don't have long-term interest in working with people lacking the necessary maturity to do whatever it takes to smash the problems in their way. The biggest organizational impediment that exists is our own pride.

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