The World According to Nick
My take on Software, Technology, Politics, and anything else I feel like talking about.
Monday, July 26, 2004

The War Room 

"War Rooms" are popular. If you've watched the NFL Draft before, every team sets up one to keep track of who's left on the board. Of course both campaigns have set one up for the presidential election. The Bush campaign calls theirs the Rapid Response Center, but we know what that really means. Even us lowly Software Engineers get to have a war room. It's probably familiar to most software guys as they usually pop up when a project is either late, or barely on schedule, so management can "keep things in line".

In the case of the project I'm currently working on, we have a room with a wall full of white board with everyone's name on it, along with the tracking numbers for bugs we're currently working on, and the time left on each one. Every morning at 9:00, for about 1/2 an hour, we all get together, and say what we did the previous day and what we'll be working on today. This is the first time I've ever had to go to the War Room on a daily basis, and frankly it's over kill. First of all, its an extra hour out of the day that we don't work on actual bugs. First there's the 1/2 meeting, then there's the prep time before, and the usual talk and reflection after.

So what's the point? Basically I've come to the conclusion that managers are really being overworked on pointless crap lately (more than usual), and therefore have to "make time" to do the things that are their primary job. They generally are spending so much time meeting with other managers, being part of focus groups that don't accomplish anything, and golfing, that they can't really go from desk to desk asking how things are going, or even checking important status emails from group members. If they can check that email, its usually buried in such a huge pile of mails that they were "Carbon Copied" on, that it gets buried both in their inbox, and in their mind.

That's why IT departments have been cracking down on internet usage in most companies. It's not because people are abusing that privilege more than they used to. The same people are abusing it as before. The difference is that managers don't have enough time in their day to make sure that their employees are doing their work, preventing these people from abusing that privilege, or holding them responsible if they do.

So we all suffer, and another hour of the day is blown in a glorified status meeting.

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Name: Nick
Home: Wauwatosa, WI, United States

I'm a Software Consultant in the Milwaukee area. Among various geeky pursuits, I'm also an amateur triathlete, and enjoy rock climbing. I also like to think I'm a political pundit.


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