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A Blank Stare In Return


In a previous life, I once was commiserating with a manager about how difficult and time consuming it was to keep up with technological change in the software development industry. She said “That’s why I went into management“. After sharing a chuckle, I asked her if there were any other reasons for movin’ on up. I received a blank stare in return.

In a previous life, I once was talking to a software lead and hinted that maybe he should do more than watching schedules and doling out tasks (like cutting some code from time to time or keeping the technical documentation in synch with the code or doing some exploratory testing on the code base or taking on the role of buildmaster). I received a blank stare in return.

In a previous life, I once asked a software lead why he moved out of “coding” and into the periphery of management. He said: “For more money“. When I asked him if there were any other reasons, I received a blank stare in return.

At least they were honest. They could’ve offered up the classic management textbook response: “to take on more responsibility“. Better yet, they could’ve said “to help people do their jobs better” or “to help improve the quality of our processes by reducing red tape and eliminating low value steps“.

So, are they “selfish” people? Nah. This ubiquitous behavior is simply a side effect of how the vast majority of reward and power distribution systems are structured in hierarchical orgs. It’s been that way for 100 years and it looks like it will stay that way for the next 100 years. But then again, maybe not.

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