Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Design by Glossy

How many folks do you know that live in a world of Design By Glossy?  Inherently, some Director or VP goes to Interop or goes golfing with a bunch of Sales Weasels and ends up bringing in products without the first requirement documented and vetted.  Now,all of a sudden, the implementation is on the schedule, its in your bucket list, and you are still trying to figure out what  problem this thing solves.

I cannot count how many times I've seen this and it is a travesty.  It is devastating on morale, devastating on the services IT provides, and it is more disruptive than helpful.  Many times, you end up with Shelfware, dumpware, or junkware and crippleware.  Here is a list of damages these decisions cause:

1. Without requirements, how do you do an effective test and acceptance? What criteria do you use? The applications glossy sheet?  How smart is that?

2. Has the workload been examined, vetted, and adjusted?  All too often, products are piled up on other products such that the person cannot devote enough time to get the implementation close. Do you sacrifice people because of the new app and not even know it?

3. What has been or is being sold to the customer? Many times the guy doing the selling has never seen it work. Now, someone else is responsible for making things work when even the vendor cannot respond.

4. Who is responsible? Is it the buyer?  Or is it the Implementer? Who is the Chicken and who is the pig?  Remember the pig has more to lose in the game than the chicken. Be fair.

Here are a few bad things that typically occur:

The guy sticks around for a couple of years, then bolts, leaving a trail of tears. Thats OK.  They going on to the next gig thinking that if only somebody had implemented what I said, it would have been perfect.

Somebody somewhere in the organization is made a scapegoat for each one of these fiascos. The DBG person cannot be responsible. They claim they are the Sales person or the Director/VP at that point.  Its up to someone else to be responsible.

After going through a couple of these, there are people that consider a change in careers. It is so demoralizing that some even have to seek counselling. Many others end up hating what they do.  Others tend to get as close as possible to the DBG in hopes that they become favored and not F@#$ed.(Kind of a behavior see in child and domestic abuse cases where the victim gets as close to the perp as possible to avoid more abuse.)

The DBG person becomes a Troll Magnet for Sales people. They attract sales people because they have a history of foolish purchasing.  No requirements. No POCs. Just run and Gun POs. Heres the check! It is almost the perfect storm for sales.

They develop a history or legacy for technical people to be wary of.  Strong technical people tend to push back. And when they do, the DBG person will resort to OSI Layer 8 - the Political Layer.Without a grounding in solid technical merit, their DBG choices have to resort to non-technical criteria.

Conclusion - This is the danger of politicians becoming elevated into leadership roles in technical environments without paying their dues.  They think they understand engineering and engineering concepts, but they only pay lip service.  Even those with Engineering or Comp Sci backgrounds will do the same thing when they have not evolved technically over time. To them, its more important on who you know than it is for a product to actually solve some problems.

Any sign of a DBG in charge can cost the organization a significant amount of money, time, and people.

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