Thursday, September 20, 2007

Give me straight answer!

In case you thought I'd gone all soft from getting such good news about the New York deal:


The same shit happens in personal relationships and work relationships. You ask a straight question and you don't get a straight answer. Or you ask a simple yes/no question and get a vague answer that isn't yes or no. Or you ask an open question and the person answers with a yes or no that doesn't make any sense. Sometimes it seems clear the person is doing it deliberately to be evasive. Sometimes they don't seem to realise they're doing it. And sometimes they do it because they don't give a shit about you.

Politicians are, of course, past masters at this. That's because most of them are pathological liars who are scared to commit to anything. They're driven by polls rather than any actual commitment to an ideal. And I'm NOT talking about politicians who change their minds. I get so angry when somebody who's actually willing to think about an issue is called a "flip-flopper".

Yeah, being willing to consider that circumstances can change is a serious fucking character flaw. The idiocy of associating intelligence and open-mindedness with weakness was best summed up by Steven Colbert when he ripped George W Bush apart at the 2006 Whitehouse Correspondent's Dinner. His description of W:

"The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday, that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change, this man's beliefs never will."

That sums him up perfectly. That sort of attitude isn't resolute and clear. It's fucking stupid.

I actually wandered a bit of the topic there. What got me in this mood was a little "issue" at work recently. Part of my job is defining the requirements for the project we're working on. I don't agree with the attitude some people have about requirements being carved in stone, but once they get signed off you need a pretty clear reason to change them.

Changing requirements doesn't necessarily mean a project is in trouble. In fact it's often a positive sign - people are thinking and finding ways to improve things. But when someone won't give straight answers about their motivations it drives me fucking crazy. Here's a little discussion that happened at work recently. I've broken it up into what "he" said, what I said and in brackets what I was saying in my head.

HE SAID: We need the integration function between the systems to bring across these extra fields

I SAID: Where did this requirement come from?
(Hey, I did this one, what are you trying to pin on me?)

HE: There are some fields that will be needed in this report that the integration

I: What are you basing that on?
(Seriously, what the fuck are you up to?)

HE: We don't want to have to add these fields manually, that's too much extra work.

I: But why is this coming up now? Everyone involved agreed we had everything we needed covered.
(Don't fuck with me over this, I'm not in the mood.)

HE: Looking at this report, I see some fields that are missing.

I: But what was the source of this requirement?
(Why won't you answer the question I'm asking?)

HE: There are these fields...

I: What conversation with what person triggered this? What makes you bring this up now? I went over these requirements in fine detail with everyone involved and what you are saying was never mentioned as a requirement.
(I mean it, six fucking meetings with 20 fucking people. Don't try and make it look like I'm not doing my job.)

HE: We're going to need to add these fields...

I: Shut the fuck up! You're making this shit up! I'm not taking your crap, I'm out of here.
(Maybe we should schedule another meeting with all the stakeholders to work out what's really required.)

The moral of this story is: Don't have conversations in your head while you're talking to someone because you might get them confused.

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