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Alexander Johannesen

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Fri, 20 August 2004 13:00:00 GMT

Notice! This blog is no longer updated as such, and the new spot to point your feedreaders and blurry eyes are https://shelter.nu/blog/

This also means no more comments here, and especially not you spammers, you filthy floatsam of the internet!

Losing it ... again.

Hi. My name is Alex, and I'm sick of it all. I am an angered and bitter individual, full of bile and threats of vengance. Oh hear my lament;

Why must "processes" and "business analysis" be the beakon of shining light through the fog of "enterprise" development? We throw ourselves into situations where we must collect "user requirements", demonstrate to the "project investors" that our "business objective" is met by our "specifications." The "management process group" lead by the "chief superindendant technical officer" needs "milestone reports" and "board reports" (that of course also needs to go to the "steering board") so that their "ongoing work processes can be adjusted." Fun stuff like that.

Maybe it's just me not grasping how the world works or something, but this incredibly strong focus on anti-human parlance and functionality is so darn wrong! It is why usable design processes (See! I just did it again!) appealed to me in the first place; getting away from a hierarchical description of processes ('The implicating supervisor for this process of structured governance reports to the requirements specifyer on specific events of process control.') for simple stuff that really amounts to "Send Bob an email when its done".

Now don't get me wrong; I understand the value of templates and explanations of "how we do things around 'here" - even a processing workflow (Dangit!) - but I do not understand why the people making these templates and explanations whinge because people don't use them, or don't use them fully, or wrongly, or slightly right but not right enough, or don't understand them, or don't like them, or don't want them, or - like me - don't grasp what they're trying to say, or whatever criteria a failed process or project or company gets. Ah yes, the abstractions and the objectivism should make things arbitrary and straight to the point, deliciously logic and fit for breaking any fuzzy human thing down to machine parts to be easily assembled by low-skilled assemblers, ... but they don't! They never will! Humans are terribly good at not being logic, at not wanting to be treated as a piece of factory assemblers. In fact, we rebel against it, we hate it, and do things oppositely in shere protest. It is why these big machines are known for their slowness.

And yet we embrace this practice further! As I said, I'm sick of it all, because this is a management aspect I've seen all my life, faught against and tried to change, without much success, even when said management knows and admits it "isn't the best thing to do, but what else can we do?" The mind boggles; How about "Something else?" Anything will do. Try something new; treat the former processes as you would treat a person you like. Treat the former project specifications as a dinner you're holding for friends. Make it personal. Make it more human. Make it so that humans won't rebel against the core of the ideas you're trying to push.

End of bile. Yes, yes, some do it differently, but somehow they seem to be small companies where there are fewer cooks. Where is the benevolent dictator when you need him?

Permalink (Fri, 20 August 2004 13:00:00 GMT)| Comments (11) | General
( Fri, Aug 20 2004 )
Hear, hear, Alex. Well put. Usually, processes suck.
Eric TF Bat ( Mon, Aug 23 2004 )
Hello! You've just been linked by Scrivs. If fiftyfoureleven's experience isn't unusual, hundreds of geeks are now going to click to your site, look at the heading of this article, sneer 'There's only one 'o' in 'losing'', and leave. Never underestimate the anal-retentiveness of geeks!
(Feel free to fix the typo and then delete this comment, and claim it was lack of caffeine or something; I do that all the time.)
Alex ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
thanks for the correction. My claim is that English is my fourth language, and I fibble from time to time. I'll correct it in the next batch, but seriously; should we submit to this anal-retentiveness? Words fail me.
Alex ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
Just to chime in again that 'loosing' seems to be perfectly legal.
Alex ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
... of course, in a slightly different but still semantically same context. Just to make sure I've got it right. Or left.
Eric TF Bat ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
It's a subtle difference: if you loose your balloon, you let it go on purpose; if you lose it, you let it go by accident.
Actually, it's a subtle point all round: a lot of the blogs I read get things wrong on a tiny scale - misplaced apostrophes, 'alright' as one word instead of two ('all right'), and stuff like that. It makes me stop, shake my head, and then keep reading. It's a trivial pothole on the superhighway, if you'll pardon the ancient metaphor. If I'm being irritable, it makes me vaguely consider closing the tab and reading the next blog in my list. But I'm a grammar snob; I will honestly delete someone from my personal list of blogs if they're too far off what I would call 'literate' -- and 'too far off' in this case can be just an apostrophe here and there.
In general, I hope, most people aren't as finicky as me. Even I will be far more likely to dump someone for talking rubbish with impeccable grammar than for speaking wisely with a few typos. It's important to have some sense of proportion, even if you're a peddant like me.
Now I shall go read your archives, and decide (in my infinite wisdom) if I need to bookmark you permanently. Are you just dizzy with the honour of it all? Imagine...
Gideon ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
My landlord want to get ride of me, because she wants to demolish the house I rent from her so that she can build more smaller houses which van then be rented for twice as much rent...
Now the is something like the law standing in her way, I am protected by law and do not have to leave unless I agree to the settlement.
The problem is that 'she' is a BigCorp and has made this it to a process (mostly using FUD to scare people in to submission), which has been very effective: most people fall for the fear and frustation.
Problem is, I want to be treated as a person, a human being, an individual. I want them to accept responsibility and work at a balanced and fair solution. But they can't... it's not in the script.
The script assumes that I must be afraid and will accept anything: I'm not. But this does not mean they try something else, no... the process must be executed as written, there can be no exceptions to the rules -- even if the rule is clearly unjust in this situation then it's the situation which is wrong, not the rule.
Why do some people make rules and then assume that following them to the letter is in anyway beter then thinking for themselves? Making the rules their gods?
I guess it's about fear of responsibility: No one gets fired for following orders and somehow they assume that by following orders they themselves are not responsible for what they do. I fear for these people because they have no humanity in them.
To me, guidelines, rules and laws are teachers from which we should learn how to do things, know beter from worse, but mostly to discover why they work. They are however not absolute. They are the map, not the reality.
In reality we need people who take responsibility, who look for a solution wherever it can be found and who dare to leave the old roads on the map, when appropriate and needed. Who have the courage to walk alone without a map. To explore new territory and discover new rules.
Alex ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
Eric : Honoured? Any reason for that? I do understand that typos are factors of integrity and respect, especially with certain people. As in all things; it depends.
While browsing the archives, remember that my English improves over time.
Gideon : Amen to 'the objectivist legacy.'
Eric TF Bat ( Tue, Aug 24 2004 )
(Alex: I was being silly; I figure I was already sounding so pompous with that message, I might as well go all the way. Now please print out all your archives on hand-made parchment and personally deliver them to my private secretary, who will read them to me while I lounge on my solid gold sofa. Thank you.)
Alex ( Wed, Aug 25 2004 )
Eric : I'm on it.
Aine / ( Sun, Aug 29 2004 )
I can understand your frustration with all that gobbledegook-speak that goes on in the business world. Do you know why they have to use all of that in their day to day interactions? Several reasons, all of which are (when examined) related to insecurity: they don't really know what they are talking about so they use all this jargon to cover up their ignorance; it makes them sound important and justifies their existence at the company (chances are, some poor bastard working for them at half the salary is the one who really knows what he's doing and does the real work and gets no credit for it); and they also figure, if you don't understand what they're saying or talk like that, then upper management can use that as leverage to pass you over for promotions or opportunities, since (in their minds) you're obviously not competent enough (or elite, like them) to even understand what's going on. It's idiotic. It's dehumanizing. And it's wrong.