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Posted on: Thursday, 25 June 2009 by Rajiv Popat

Selfish, Lazy And Not Big On Being Ethical.

I'm the Frankenstein's monster.

I'm talking about downloading office space trailers from you-tube using the office bandwidth.

A 'Few Good Men' working for the best interest of the organization stare at me like I've just dropped a stinking dead carcass in a meeting room.

"But that is not very ethical" --- says someone.

This is it.

The moment when the room fades into the grayness and you can clearly see the white differently from the black.

This is when I am hit by an instant flash of lighting.

I know exactly what I want from the candidates I interview to join my team. Besides, technical competence and a truck load of qualities I already talked about in this book; I am going to pick my builders based on three simple additional qualities:

  1. Laziness.
  2. Selfishness.
  3. Does not bitch about ethics.

Of-course; I know you're knitting your brows already. I know I owe an explanation to what I just said. So; let's get on with the explanations.

Get Me Someone Who Is Lazy.

I'm staring in awe at Fred as he demonstrates his sort-able grid view. He spent months building it. He is flexing his engineering mussels. He is one proud hard working builder.

I'm sorry.

I would prefer someone lazier.

Someone who would just go out there and... buy a sort-able grid.

Honestly.

I have no problems with you building stuff; but going out there and building the thousandth sort-able grid isn't my idea of innovation --- unless of course you are in the business of building grid views.

If you're not you might consider not flexing your engineering mussels of heroism and you might consider buying that freaking grid-view out there.

Having said that; genuine builders love the idea of building stuff. At work; when we landed up with an application needing fifty reports we decided to get lazy and build an ad-hoc reporting system which would allow the end-users to do their own reporting.

Genuine innovation doesn't happen by building the same grid view, reports or CRUD application a thousand times over.

It happens by indulging in the act smart laziness.

Get Me Someone Who is Selfish.

At work my every single day revolves around my selfish interest which over a period of time has co-incidentally intertwined really well with my organizational interest.

When that happens and interests intertwine builders stick around. 

During my days as a young and budding engineer; I was conducting three trainings a week on topics ranging from .NET to usability. Even today I try my best to conduct regular trainings at work.

Anyone who tells you that he is conducting these trainings or knowledge sharing sessions for the best interest of the organization is giving you a truck load of horse shit in it's rawest form.

I conduct trainings because:

  1. I get to learn new things which I am going to train others on.
  2. I get better at communication.
  3. I get to flex my engineer mussel and show-off how smart I am.

Training; is just an example. I pick it because conducting a knowledge sharing session seems like the most selfless of acts. I am here, dear reader, to tell you that it isn't.

Nothing is. 

Builders don't work under the false pretence of doing a favor to the organization or working for the best interest of the organization.

Anyone who does that is a hardcore whiner.

Make no mistakes.

Every single genuine builder out there who is worth his salt; is going to work for his very own selfish interest.

Organizations that align themselves to the best interests or their genuine-and-totally-selfish-builders; win.

The famous twenty percent time at Google is just one over hyped example of this happing in the real life.

There are tons of others out there.

Keep your eyes open and you can come up with your very own remarkable ways of taking the most selfish interest of your builders and aligning them with the interest of your organization.

Try to make your builders work for the best interest of your organization and you will end up doing is indulge in the act of sending your organization down the boring road of mediocrity.

Someone Who Does Not Bitch About Ethics.

Genuine builders tend to love what they do.

Besides their life long passion for their work and a consistent commitment; most builders that I have worked with are amazing fun loving people who do crazy fun loving things.

Walk into a software 'thinking' development shop and it isn't unusual to see a few programmers with their head buried deep in their monitor; their ears stuffed with head-phone.

Quite a few of the builders I have worked with have varied kinds of music they like to code by.

Others have a hilarious collection of funny videos.

Some of into Sudoku.

Others are into X-Box games.

In fact; even when it comes to software development and work; most seriously kick-ass developers live outside their cubical.

If you're going to be constantly bitching about how much of your time and bandwidth usage is for work and how much of it is for personal reasons like fun and growth; software development isn't for you.

What you need to do is get a job at the car-factory-work-shop or an Indian-call-center.

Now stop hitting that stupid ALT+TAB window and switching from you-tube to the code window every time your manager passes by.

Try not to obsess about what is ethical and what isn't. Instead; consider having a blast and shipping some seriously kick-ass innovation.

Seriously.

At the end of the day it's like this --- those who bitch the most about ethics; have very little of it.

Now; go hire a few selfish programmers who do not constantly bitch about the best interest of the organization or ethical code of conduct. All they focus on is just their very own selfish interest of growth; building stuff and having a good time doing that.

I wish you good luck.

Oh; and one more thing --- if you are reading this from your office don't forget to watch the office space trailer on you-tube using your company bandwidth --- parts of the movie are what I call utterly hilarious.

How many times do you hear big words like, right, wrong, discipline, ethical and unethical in your workplace?

How many times does your organization expect you to work for the best interest of the organization and not give a shit about your own interests?

Does your organization work on factory rules and no trust; or is it an environment where builders are genuinely empowered, 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.