Too many metaphors

I’m probably not allowed to say this any more but when I was younger there was a saying “Too many Chiefs, not enough Indians”. My apologies to any Native Americans who might be offended by this. No insult is intended. The saying is apposite to the situation at work at the moment.

Possibly due to the pending move to an inconvenient part of Sydney as mentioned in The Office there has been a spate of resignations. Quite a number of senior management have left (which also makes one ponder the saying about rats and sinking ships and hope they don’t know more about the state of the company than the rest of us) but I daresay they will be replaced by others. There is an old Russian proverb – put out a trough and the pigs will come – which I mention in passing but which has no relevance in this case.

More seriously, there have been a lot of resignations at the bottom of the termite mound where I work. Typically, the more competent a person is (at least in the technical areas), the more easily they can move around. This is an excellent thing when you are hiring because you can usually find good people if you are prepared to pay enough. The downside is that when people leave it tends to be the competent ones who go.

The good news is they seem to be hiring people to replace the programmers who are leaving. The bad news is that they seem to be replacing them with project managers.

This is probably because people tend to be hired by managers. I’ve met a lot of managers who seem to think they produce something. They don’t. They facilitate the production of things by other people. Up to a point this is a valuable activity as it frees up the productive people to produce things rather than having to organise things.

Beyond this point, things tend to break down (read Parkinson’s Law sometime). Managers cease to become facilitators and start getting in the way. Because they live and die by reports, plans and forecasts, and because the more managers you have the less chance that any given manager will understand the subject matter in sufficient depth, they start asking the technical people for reports, plans and forecasts. Technical people hate this sort of thing so they leave to try and find a place that will let them do their job.

Oddly enough, the solution to this is not to hire more managers. You would think Blind Freddy could work this one out but then, Blind Freddy isn’t making the decisions.

I shall try and convince someone that we need more people who actually produce something. But frankly, I think I’m flogging a dead metaphor.

This entry was posted on Friday, April 13th, 2007 at 2:12 pm and is filed under And furthermore.... You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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