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Posted on: Tuesday, 23 June 2009 by Rajiv Popat

I'm Just Working For The Best Interest Of The Organization.

"All I am trying to do is work for the best interest of the organization."

The next time you hear those words --- run.

As fast as you can.

And whatever it is that you do --- Don't look back.

If you just heard those words from someone you know; with all due respect to this acquaintance of yours; chances are high that he is either of these three:

  1. A certified prick who utterly and thoroughly enjoys being an asshole. 
  2. A Hardcore whiner who is also a self proclaimed well wisher of the organization.
  3. A cheap Indian programmer who in all probabilities is working off a cheap Indian outsourcing shop.

"But Pops; you are hyping this up" --- you say.

No I'm not.

I know what I am talking about.

Trust me.

I've heard these words countless number of times and every single time I've heard them; the bearer of these words have fallen in one of these three categories.

Still knitting your brows; are you?

It's time you take you back in the depths of time and dig from ages that have rolled behind a few stories from the war fronts of software development; that shall illustrate my point dear reader.

Flashback time!

I Removed The Reporting Server

Multiplitaxion Inc, is a new client of ours; their product is struggling to cope up with the traffic during afternoons. We have been called in as a consulting organization to figure out how we can speed up the performance of the application.

The programmers are introducing level-2 caching into the system; the DBA is tweaking the stored procedures.

We've spent days analyzing at our end. Our findings are simple --- the afternoon loads are heavy; the system could do with another reporting server having a specialized reporting database.

Here is the creepy part however --- buried deep down in the physical architecture diagram of the system created a couple of years ago; is a box called 'reporting server' which stands proud and tall. 

Confused; we decide to interview the entire team including the Database Administrator who is working on tweaking the stored procedures.

'Oh the reporting server --- that was costing us a lot of money. We got rid of it. We can get this to work by tweaking the stored procedures'. --- it is the database administrator speaking.

Silence.

Sounds of crickets chirping.

I turn around to the CTO; suspecting the highest in the pecking order of usually being the asshole in these cases; throw a simple question --- 'Did you ask them to do this?'

The answer is a cold --- 'No'.

More silence.

More crickets chirping.

"What? I still feel we can run without spending money on the reporting server. All we need to do is tweak the stored procedures" --- we are hearing the database administrator speak; but a very few people in the room understand the language he is speaking.

You have to give the guy some credit.

After all; he was indeed working for the best interest of the organization.

We're just trying to make sure we utilize the company bandwidth for official purposes only

I can't seem to figure out how I got here.

I am staring at a snickering system administrator who finds the idea of downloading videos from you-tube using office bandwidth as grossly unethical and amusing at the same time.

There is one little problem however; the video is a hilariously funny and inspirational; I want to share with my team.

"We're just trying to make sure we utilize the company bandwidth for official purposes" --- I am told.

I hail to the self proclaimed well wishers of the organization.

Then I buckle up to take this further with people in the organization who have the enough power and common sense to understand.

We can reward him by giving him more challenges.

Jack is working hard. Seriously hard.

We've been struggling to get this release out and Jack has been up practically all weekend.

The project has just shipped; the sky is blue and the birds are singing.

His project manager gives him a complementary leave to rest and heal from the bruises of a difficult war. 

In the copy-list of the email are a few others higher up in the pecking order.

Someone responds --- this gentleman who is responding after removing Jack's email from the trail; thinks that we cannot be giving off complementary holidays as easily as this. He proposes:

  1. Cancel Jacks complementary holiday.
  2. Offer him more 'grow opportunity' by giving him more challenges; spelt ---- "more work".
  3. We all collectively work for the best interest of the organization even when rewarding team-members.

I'm not directly connected or concerned.

I decide to shut the fu@#k up.

The Late Marker And The Break Time Calculator

Fred is interviewing with us. Here are his achievements besides work:

  1. Suggested development of a 'late marker' that marks employees late if they get in after nine in the morning. Three late markers results in a leave getting deducted.
  2. Suggested development of a break time calculator that is going to track the number of minutes individuals spend during their break time.
  3. Developed the perfect Frankenstein style - 'employee cloning system' and cloned a couple of hundred micro management zombies.

Well actually, he didn't mention the third one; but while he was at it; working for the best interest of the organization; he might as well have designed a Frankenstein Employee Cloning system used to clone a few micro-management-zombies like himself.

Self Proclaimed Moral Police

I could go on with the stories for ever. In fact, given my observations I could probably write a dedicate hilarious book on this but it would mostly end up having a Daily-WTF flavor to it. 

For the time being however; let's not even go there.

Lets focus on the point here.

Every organization that I've visited, worked for, worked with, built a project for or observed has a few whiners who like to think of themselves as the 'well wishers of the organization'. People who have a 'job' of defending the organization from the scum of other employees.

I like to call them the 'self proclaimed moral police'.

They individuals; will try to protect every single square inch of the organization they can; starting from the internet bandwidth; the disk space on individual hard disk of developers; to printer paper by monitoring the number of printouts each developer is firing on a daily basis.

After observing countless number of these guys; screwing organizational morale; in my career; if there was one thing I learnt; it was how to spot these whiners in an interview; keep them out of your team and keep then out of the organization.

Spotting them is easy.

All you have to do is keep your ears open and look out for the golden words --- "for the best interest of the organization".

And when you hear those words, run.

As fast as you can.

Whatever you do --- Don't look back.

How many Daily-WTF-type examples under the name of the best-interest-of-the-organization have you witnessed?

How many whining self proclaimed moral police have you had a pleasure of working with?

How many of these decisions taken for the best-interest-of-the-organization ultimately ended up fu@#king up the organizational morale and eventually nudging it in the realms of mediocrity where cheap Indian body shops haggling over per-hour-billing-rates reside; dear reader?

Discuss.

Note: This article is a part of a Work In Progress Book. To Read connected articles read the Builders At Work category of this blog.