Feeds

Institutional idiocy in IT

High tech narcissism or old fashioned stupidity?

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

Every now and then, I think it's healthy to sit back and recap on industry best practice. However, I'm not going to do that here. It's much more fun to tear into worst practice.

I'm talking about the sort of institutional behaviour that transforms the simplest task into something requiring a 20 person committee. The measures put in place to offset competitive advantage. The pointless and unavoidable bureaucratic method that drags us down to the baseline level of performance (or more accurately, lack thereof).

Unfortunately, I've got no quick fixes to the hardship and stress these people cause, but if I can make fun of them for a page or two, at least we might feel better about it...

What are the signs that your company indulges in unhealthy reinforcement of idiocy from years past? Well, there's really only one. Your company probably has a purpose, a core competence from where the profits come; and once the company was innovative, streamlined, and single minded in the pursuit of this corporate goal.

Unfortunately, in this golden age some weren't happy. Those who couldn't innovate furrowed their brows in a vain effort to understand and started inventing ways to stifle that which was beyond their comprehension. Bureaucracy was introduced to slow down the ideas men and to shift the battlefield. Eventually, many organisations forgot that providing bureaucracy and a playground for narcissists does not help them to make a profit.

Does anyone know what I mean when I say "office drama queen"? Imagine a basic oversight that can be fixed quickly. For instance, a missing SQL file in a deployment package, the kind of anomaly that is fixed in a couple of minutes, after which things go smoothly thanks to the undramatic reaction to a simple mistake. But not if the drama queen is the first to notice. The severity of the problem will be magnified many times over. There's perhaps a valid underlying issue, but any impact analysis is lacking. He (or she, but we'll assume male for now) will grab a passing manager by the shoulders, shaking him as he shouts about the impending breakdown in the client relationship. As the real engineers shake their heads in disbelief, the manager is visibly affected; he mistakes the head shaking for universal appreciation of the management talent just displayed.

While we're talking about this, we could also mention the email demon. Any ill-judged mail will come back to haunt you. Remember those vague suggestions you made, in context, just to start a discussion on some subject? The email demon's reply shows a complete misunderstanding of the original email and he's seen fit to place in bold, YOU MUST NOT DO THIS. Copied in are all available managers; his only hope is that one of them won't see what a cretin he is. You, of course, have a devil's alternative. You can reply to his CC list or you can ignore it. In one case, you will be interpreted as belligerent; and in the other, you're letting yourself be walked over. If anyone has figured out a way to deal with this, please let me know. I can't say it officially, but just between us, this significant contribution to the industry should see you well placed for a Turing award.

These are two of the tactics employed in the game of politics - that productive people generally don't like playing. It's not all that we're up against though. Armed just with basic professional integrity, we must also face arcane procedures without any obvious origins; which may have made sense once but not now, when the same result can be achieved both faster and more reliably with improved techniques or tools.

Beware of pointing this out, however, because the suggestion that widely used procedures are outdated can be seen as highlighting the ineptitude of your colleagues [or, worse, your boss, who may actually have implemented them when he was at the coalface, years ago – Ed].

If the arcane procedures form part of an interface with other people, you may not even be able to do things your way quietly, you might have to accept them until you can find a way to bring people around diplomatically...Is such a case hard to imagine? An example is that many development companies have still not adopted incremental development processes; there are still "telephone directory" specifications out there, developed by the marketing department with no input from development.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.