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It all happens so quickly. One minute the Boss is living off the fat of the land - mainly long, boozy lunches with tools vendors and regular liaisons in the stationery cupboard with his 'finance' contact from the accounts department ? and the next he's out on his ear. In the end it wasn't dubious tools contracts, adulterous behaviour on company time, late delivery on projects, zero staff morale or even plummeting user satisfaction that did for him. In his next job he'll be more careful with the paintwork of the CEOs new Jag when he's parking.
And here we are ? the entire development department in addition to my team ? meeting the new Boss. I manage a quick word with Pam from HR, but all she can tell me is that he's been brought in from another company. What about the internal contenders? I know that Old MacDonald, our EIEIO, has been angling for the job for the last 16 years. Pam shrugs and says that our new beloved Leader is highly rated and had to be head hunted. I try not to think about how much money we had to bribe him with…
Anyway, the great man is up front, armed with PowerPoint and ready to let us know that things are going to CHANGE. Yep. All caps. I take this as a bad sign. He manages to introduce himself in only six slides, including a potted CV and a list of major achievements (which, if even remotely connected to reality, are impressive).
Introductions done, it's time to move on to PROBLEMS. The first slide contains a nice long list. I like it. It includes 'micro-management', 'arbitrary prioritisation', 'not listening to developers', 'poor quality', 'low user satisfaction' and more. And then, suddenly, the projector goes off, the Boss steps forward and, apparently unscripted, he launches into a heart to heart.
I'm momentarily impressed, but then I glance down at the hard copy of the presentation and notice that the slide notes say: switch off projector and talk to audience directly. So much for unscripted.
Well, the heart to heart goes something like this: old Boss bad, new Boss good. Old Boss meddled in everything, new Boss will be hands-off. Old Boss shifted priorities to please CEO, new Boss will stick to plans. The old Boss wouldn't listen, the new Boss is all ears. All delivered with maximum sincerity.
Then, having parlayed the new utopia, it's time for him to listen to us. All of the team leaders were primed by Pam, and we've all got our PowerPoint slides at the ready. Pam gets up, looks in my direction and suggests that I go first. I'd been hoping to last but what the heck…
I launch into my stuff, listing who the personnel are in my team, the projects we've recently delivered and what we're working on for the next six months.
'Josh,' the new Boss interrupts me mid-sentence.
'It's Joe,' I point out. I mean, it's there on the screen in big blue letters.
'Joe, what font is it that you're using for your title slide?'
Is he serious? 'The standard one,' I reply.
He shakes his head. 'I don't think so. That looks like Arial from here. The standard's Verdana I think you'll find.'
'Right. Shall I carry on?'
He scribbles on his pad for just that little bit too long then looks up and gives the nod.
So I move on for another minute or so and get interrupted again. 'Joe,' he suggests, 'I'm not sure you're using corporate colours on your presentation. What template are you using?'
How the hell do I know? I cut and pasted from some other presentation, like most normal people do.
When I finally move on to talking about current plans I'm stopped again. 'Joe,' he suggests, 'I think we're going to have a look at those plans.'
'But these are the ones that were agreed…'
'They're dead,' he states with a finality that sounds suspiciously familiar. 'I've looked at these projects, and, frankly, they stink. I had a chat with the CEO and he thinks we should…'
I zone out momentarily. I must be in some sort of weird time warp. It's more than deja vu. I swear the new Boss even looks like the old one…