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    IT rant checklist:

    • [x] Humble brag (I could do X in 10 min, people that take longer are dumb or lazy)
    • [x] Shitting on (a straw man/worse case scenario of) agile, then describing a solution that is … agile
    • [x] Hustle culture worship
    • [x] Absence of a point or conclusion
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      There was a conclusion: “buy my book”.

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        [x] Shitting on (a straw man/worse case scenario of) agile, then describing a solution that is … agile

        As he says “Agile proponents say it hasn’t been tried right.”

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        This is incredible. I think it’s mostly large, established businesses where this is a thing. On the other end of the spectrum you have the overworked startup workers who have to work lots of overtime, and the struggling underpaid freelancers.

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          I’m not convinced it’s size so much as location of the department within the company and whether that department is on a critical revenue path. I mean it’s hard to imagine this at a tiny to small (<25 headcount) company but such a company won’t really have peripheral departments as such and would somehow need to be simultaneously very dysfunctional and also successful to sustain such a situation.

          The original author keeps talking about “working in tech” but the actual jobs listed as examples suggest otherwise: “software developer [at] one of the world’s most prestigious investment banks”, “data engineer for one the world’s largest telecommunications companies”, “data scientist for a large oil company”, “quant for one of the world’s most important investment banks.”

          First off, these are not what I’d personally call the “tech industry”.

          More importantly, these don’t sound like positions which are on a direct critical path to producing day-to-day revenue. Similarly importantly, they’re also not exactly cost centres within the company, whose productivity is typically watched like a hawk by the bean counters. Instead, they seem more like long-term strategic roles, vaguely tasked with improving revenue or profit at some point in the future. It’s difficult to measure productivity here in any meaningful way, so if leadership has little genuine interest in that aspect, departmental sub-culture can quickly get bogged down in unproductive pretend busywork.

          But what do I know, I’ve been contracting for years and am perpetually busy doing actual cerebral work: research, development, debugging, informing decisions on product direction, etc.. There’s plenty of that going on if you make sure to insert yourself at the positions where money is being made, or at least where there’s a product being developed with an anticipation of direct revenue generation.

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            I’ve seen very similar things at least twice in small companies (less than a hundred people in the tech department). In both cases, Scrum and Agile (which had nothing to do with the original manifesto but this is how it is nowadays) were religion, and you could see this kind of insane inefficiency all the time. But no one but a handful of employees cared about it and they all got into trouble.

            From what I’ve seen, managers love this kind of structure because it gives them visibility, control and protection (“every one does Scrum/Agile so it is the right way; if productivity is low, let’s blame employees and not management or the process”). Most employees (managers included) also have no incentive beeing more productive: you do not get more money, and you get more work (and more expectations) every single time. So yes, the majority will vocally announce that a 1h hour task is really hard and will take a week. Because why would they do otherwise?

            Last time I was in this situation, I managed to sidestep the problem by joining a new tiny separate team which operated independently and removed all the BS (Scrum, Agile, standups, reviews…) and in general concentrated on getting things done. It worked until a new CTO fired the lead and axed the team for political reasons but this is another story.

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              It worked until a new CTO fired the lead and axed the team for political reasons but this is another story.

              I’m guessing maybe it isn’t: a single abnormally productive team potentially makes many people look very bad, and whoever leads the team is therefore dangerous and threatens the position of other people in the company without even trying. I’d find it very plausible that the productivity of your team was the root cause of the political issues that eventually unfolded.

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                This was 80% of the problem indeed. When I said it was another story, I meant that this kind of political game was unrelated to my previous comments on Scrum/Agile. Politics is everywhere, whether the people involved are productive or not.

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                  It’s not just a question of people not wanting to “look bad,” though.

                  As a professional manager, about 75% of my job is managing up and out to maintain and improve the legibility of my team’s work to the rest of the org. Not because I need to build a happy little empire, but because that’s how I gain evidence to use when arguing for the next round of appealing project assignments, career development, hiring, and promotions for my team.

                  That doesn’t mean I need to invent busywork for them, but it does mean that random, well-intentioned but poorly-aimed contributions aren’t going to net any real org-level recognition or benefit for the team, or that teammate individually. So the other 25% of my energy goes to making sure my team members understand where their work fits in that larger framework, how to gain recognition and put their time into engaging and business-critical projects, etc., etc.

                  …then there’s another 50% of my time that goes to writing: emails to peers and collaborators whose support we need, ticket and incident report updates, job listings, performance evaluations, notes to myself, etc. Add another 50% specifically for actually thinking ahead to where we might be in 9-18 months and laying the groundwork for staff development and/or hiring needed to have the capacity for it, as well as the design, product, and marketing buy-in so we aren’t blocked asking for go-to-market help.

                  Add up the above and you can totally see why middle managers are useless overhead who contribute nothing, and everyone would be better off working in a pure meritocracy without anyone “telling them what to do.”

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                    omg, I’ve recently worked in a ‘unicorn’ where everyone one was preoccupied with how their work will look like from the outside and if it will improve their ‘promo package’. Never before have I worked in a place so full of buzzword driven projects that barely worked. But hey, you need one more cross team project with dynamodb to get that staff eng promo! 🙃 < /rant>

                    1. 1

                      Given your work history (from your profile), have you seen an increase in engineers being willfully ignorant about how their pet project does or does not fit into the big picture of their employer?

                      I ask this from having some reports who, while quite sharp, over half the time cannot be left alone to make progress without getting bogged-down in best-practices and axe-sharpening. Would be interested to hear how you’ve handled that, if you’ve encountered it.

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                        I don’t think there’s any kind of silver bullet, and obviously not everyone is motivated by pay, title, or other forms of institutional recognition.

                        But over the medium-to-long term, I think the main thing is to show consistently and honestly how paying attention to those drivers gets you more of whatever it is you want from the larger org: autonomy, authority, compensation, exposure in the larger industry, etc.

                        Folks who are given all the right context, flexibility, and support to find a path that balances their personal goals and interests with the larger team and just persistently don’t are actually performing poorly, no matter their technical abilities.

                        Of course, not all organizations are actually true to the ethos of “do good by the team and good things will happen for you individually.” Sometimes it’s worth to go to battle to improve it; other times you have accept that a particular boss/biz unit/company is quite happy to keep making decisions based on instinct and soft influence. (What to do about the latter is one of the truly sticky + hard-to-solve problems for me in the entire field of engineering management, and IME the thing that will make me and my team flip the bozo bit hard on our upper management chain.)

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                          Would you be able to elaborate on the last paragraph about making decisions based on instinct and soft influence? Why is it a problem and what do you mean by “soft influence” in particular? Quite interested to understand more.

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                            Both points (instinct + soft influence) refer to the opposite of “data-driven” decision-making. I.e., “I know you and we think alike” so I’m inclined to support your efforts + conclusions. Or conversely, “that thing you’re saying doesn’t fit my mental model,” so even though there are processes and channels in place for us to talk about it and come to some sort of agreement, I can’t be bothered.

                            It’s also described as “type 1” thinking in the Kahneman model (fast vs. slow). Not inherently wrong, but also very prone to letting bias and comfort drown out actually-critical information when you’re wrestling with hard choices.

                            Being on the “supplicant” end and trying to use facts to argue against unquestioned biases is demoralizing and often pointless, which is the primary failure mode I was calling out.

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                              This is true and relevant, but it’s also key to point out why instinct-driven decisions are preferred in so many contexts.

                              By comparison, data-driven decision-making is slower, much more expensive, and often (due to poor statistical rigor) no better.

                              Twice in my career I have worked with someone whose instincts consistently steered the team in the right direction, and given the option that’s what I’d always prefer. Both of these people were kind and understanding to supplicants like me, and - with persistence - could be persuaded to see new perspectives.

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                                Excellent points! Claiming to be “data driven” while cherry-picking the models and signals you want is really another form of instinctive decision-making…but also, the time + energy needed to do any kind of science in the workplace can easily be more than you (individually or as a group) have to give.

                                If you have collaborators (particularly in leadership roles) with a) good instincts, b) the willingness to change their mind, and c) an attitude of kindness towards those who challenge their answers, then you have found someone worth working with over the long-term. I personally have followed teammates who showed those traits between companies more than once, and aspire to at least very occasionally be that person for someone else.

                              2. 1

                                That’s helpful, thanks for clarifying.

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                              Thanks for the reply, that’s quite helpful and matches a lot of what’s been banging around in my head.

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                              I ask this from having some reports who, while quite sharp, over half the time cannot be left alone to make progress without getting bogged-down in best-practices and axe-sharpening.

                              I think this is part of the natural life-cycle of the software developer - the majority of developers I’ve known have had an extended period where this was true, usually around 7-10 years professional experience.

                              This is complicated by most of them going into management around the 12-year mark, meaning that only 2-3 years of their careers combine “experienced enough to get it done” with “able to regulate their focus to a narrow target”.

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                                I think those timelines have been compressed these days. For better or worse, many people hold senior or higher engineering roles with significantly fewer than 7-10 years experience.

                                My experience suggests that what you’ve observed still happens - just with less experience behind the best-practices and axe-sharpening o_O

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                        My team explicitly doesn’t use scrum and all the other teams are asking: “How then would you ever get anything done?”

                        Well… a lot better.

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                      I think it’s funny but untrue to describe this as “in tech” since none of the companies - oil, telecommunications, banking - sound like software companies to me. Maybe I’m playing No True Scotsman, but it sounds like the author’s employers are mostly non-tech dinosaurs that software shops aim to disrupt. ¯_(ツ)_/¯ I’m the kind of fool who always finds a way to take my job too seriously and work too hard.

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                        Plus, most of the authors examples are not about software but about data scientistsjobs. Not saying that software people do different work there, just pointig out that this is not a “software people don’t work”, but certain company types have a lot of overhead.

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                          IMO it’s less a question of whether they are in “tech” or not and more a question of whether the company is one that focuses on production of value vs one that focuses on rent-seeking.

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                          I can’t really relate to this article at all but I couldn’t help but think if Emmanuel wants to work so hard why doesn’t he just take up what I did very recently in lifting heavy things in a warehouse all day? He has already taken the meritocratic mythos at its face so it’s almost comedic how few questions he asks about how the most severely overworked people in the market are structurally the most underpaid. If I shared the privileged sob story “I get paid so much and work so little” with any of my old blue collar colleagues it’d just piss them off and not for the reason he thinks it would.

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                            I personally didn’t get the “sob story” vibe.

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                              Do you mean you didn’t get the vibe from the article or that you didn’t get why they used that emotion for the article?

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                                I meant I didn’t perceive it.

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                                  He repeatedly mentions how “boring” it is and how it feels so “ethically compromising” to not meet his own abstract notion of merit… I guess if you’ve never had to struggle for money in your life maybe that would sound like an actual, serious problem to have. Personally as long as I’m not building machinery for the military death cult or some other similarly bleak occupation I really couldn’t give a damn about how little effort it takes to feed my family but I’ll just pin that on having vastly different priorities.

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                                    I see: you read a personal story about someone being sad they’re not living up to their full potential. I read an analysis about a systemic problem that is wasting everybody’s time (and resources if there’s a commute) and stifling whatever collective progress we could make.

                                    Also consider that fixing the most inefficient sectors could have nice collective benefits, such as reducing the work week at little to no economic cost, or reallocating resources that are currently wasted to those who are struggling for money.

                                    Edit: also, I object to your suggestion that someone should not complain because others have it so much worse. By that logic no Lobster fortunate enough to even be able to read this comment shouldn’t complain, because somewhere around the world there is someone who has it so, so much worse. I’ll refrain from giving any example, to avoid triggers.

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                                      I guess if you’ve never had to struggle for money in your life maybe that would sound like an actual, serious problem to have.

                                      It is entirely possible that the author has had that struggle; I did not see evidence in the article either way. I don’t think it helps the discussion to dismiss an author based on things we assume about them.

                                      I really couldn’t give a damn about how little effort it takes to feed my family but I’ll just pin that on having vastly different priorities.

                                      Exactly–your prioritization of your family is just as valid, to you, as (I presume here) the author’s prioritization of living up to their capabilities is to them. If you expect that we should not care about their unhappiness, we certainly cannot be expected to care about your family’s. You and the author are different, and value judgements as to who is suffering more or prioritizing better aren’t–I believe–really good material for conversation.

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                                        But isn’t saying that one view is valid or not a moralistic judgement and is therefore not sufficient for “economic decision-making” 🤔

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                                the most severely overworked people in the market are structurally the most underpaid.

                                The supply of people who can lift boxes in a warehouse dwarfs the supply of people that can bang on keyboards productively, at least for now. These are different markets.

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                                  That explains why (society|employers) get away with underpaying them. It does not change the fact that the people who lift boxes in warehouses are underpaid.

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                                    If they keep showing up to work they’re getting paid exactly what they’ve valued their labor at.

                                    Does desperation cause people to value labor their labor lower than they otherwise would? Sure. Do companies and society at large benefit from and promote policies that encourage patterns of consumption and thought that make it more likely to be desperate for work? Absolutely.

                                    That said, I think the notions of “underpaying” and “overpaying” are not by themselves useful and lend to a moralistic worldview that is insufficient for economic decision-making.

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                                      A predilection for “economic decision-making” over concern for the wellbeing of human life is itself a moralistic worldview. A pretty disturbing one in my opinion

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                                        I find it particularly inhumane to expect people to acquire and maintain any degree of wellbeing while also telling them to ignore basic facts about how the systems they interact with function merely because those systems are immoral and evil and inhumane.

                                        People are not going to be able to live their best lives if they cannot reason about the world, and there are more perspectives required for reasoning than solely “is this humane?” or “is this evil?”.

                                        Anyways, we’re getting well off into the weeds for this site–hit me up in DMs if you’d like to talk more on the topic. I’m not, by my own estimation anyways, an amoral monster.

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                                          You don’t need to ignore or misunderstand things to think they’re evil. Hierarchies like Capitalism are not that complicated. You take a power imbalance (some people controlling more stuff than others, and thus having the luxury of patience) between a few groups, a leverage mechanism (paying people a small amount of stuff to use your stuff to make you much more stuff), and reinforce it with some fixed ideas (The State / The Law / God / Meritocratic Myth) and boom, you’ve got yourself a self-sustaining exploitation machine.

                                          People cannot live their best lives if they uncritically believe the narratives created by the people who control them, and would like to continue doing so, either.

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                                              You don’t have to “win” every disagreement online.

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                                            Another point of view is that optimising economic decision-making over morality has benefited the wellbeing of people on average than optimising purely for morals.

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                                            Do companies and society at large benefit from

                                            Companies benefit. Most of the key decision-makers benefit, as do most of the wealthiest ~20-30%.

                                            Society at large is made of the people who end up desperate enough to wreck their bodies for a pittance.

                                            The “capitalism is evil” folk are responding to the practical outcome of those with capital having more influence over government policy than those without, resulting in policies that tilt the scales in their favor.

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                                              Your viewpoint is either fine or reprehensible depending on whether you believe that those who do not work should not eat. If those who do not work should eat nonetheless, then it is fine to undervalue labor; labor is optional. But if there is no food for those who do not work, then labor must be valued enough to be fungible for sufficient food and shelter on the open markets; in other words, a minimum living wage is necessary.

                                              It’s not our fault that you’re constantly obscuring your actual beliefs and thus making it harder to evaluate your position.

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                                            There are two ways to understand these kinds of problems in my view.

                                            There is firstly the apparatus-oriented view you espouse. This kind of view builds an apparatus out of abstract norms (i.e. demand) to which it then molds its observation of reality into, discarding whatever the apparatus doesn’t account for until the apparatus fails its own, internal measure of empirical success. At which point that apparatus is either adjusted to fit the previous internal measure of success or a new apparatus is conceived to “fit the data” so to speak.

                                            This kind of view comes with a variety of problems that present themselves as a kind of blindfold. Although resembling a scientific process with hypotheses, observations, and a notion of fallibility, these apparatuses are exceptionally susceptible to personal biases in their construction, allowing for a kind of categorical failure where the limited internal notion of fallibility are blinded to data which doesn’t conform to the preconceived internal measurements. Additionally the criteria of “success” for these models of reality are themselves preconceived from individual biases, and therefore fail to look further than the author of the apparatus cares to see.

                                            The second kind of view I prefer however is an unprejudiced historically-centered one. This kind of view begins with observation instead of ending with observation. This kind of view can look past simplifications such as “less keyboard people than lifting-capable people” and see, for example:

                                            • The specific, historical evolution of labor throughout the industrial era to deskill mass labor.
                                            • The specific, historical evolution of modern education to disfavor class mobility along lines of family history, race, gender, and disability.
                                            • The specific, historical evolution of markets themselves through not only lines of trade but also that of deception, warfare, and piracy.
                                            • The specific, historical evolution of land ownership and rentierism which has forced people onto the labor market to physically sustain themselves.

                                            Not one of these aspects of historical reality can be accounted for with the view of an economic apparatus, because that apparatus was constructed to comprehend the dynamics of exchange while flattening the circumstances of exchange. That is all to say, I don’t agree they are just “different markets”. And I can tell you this from, at the very least, the reality of the incredibly skilled and intelligent people I’ve met, who for myriad reasons, are forced to destroy their bodies to feed and house themselves and their loved ones.

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                                              There are all kinds of other interesting historical facts and pathos-friendly factors one can drag up.

                                              There’s also the obvious point that the labor market for warehouse labor requires a) a strong back and b) the ability to follow basic instructions, and the labor market for tech stuff requires a) the ability to communicate effectively, b) the ability to type, c) the ability to program, d) the ability to discover solutions to novel(ish) problems. These are different jobs, and ones that require different labor groups (though most programmers could probably do the warehouse job if they needed to).

                                              (And yes, there are exceptions to both markets, but I think they’re rare enough as to not matter in making my point.)

                                              I really don’t think this should be particularly controversial–different forms of labor require different levels of skill, different levels of skill correspond to rarity of workforce, and rarity of workforce increases bargaining power and thus wages.

                                              (And yes, there are cases where this model is insufficient. That is not the majority of cases.)

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                                                If you believe my point is that “certain occupations don’t require certain skills” you’ve really severely misread what I’m trying to say. Obviously certain occupations require certain things of people, I’m not stupid. My point is that you seem to rhetorically take this requirement to be the single normative condition upon which people are forced or not to perform certain labor, and in the process neglect all other circumstances, big and small, which shape the evolving realities of labor.

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                                              supply of people that can bang on keyboards productively

                                              The article is not about people who can bang on keyboards productively; it’s about people who can produce the illusion of productivity. There’s lots of money to be made in potemkin villages, and it doesn’t require skilled labor.

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                                            I think there are a lot of factors at play:

                                            • Productivity naturally swings a lot. As Joel says These bouts of unproductiveness usually last for a day or two. But there have been times in my career as a developer when I went for weeks at a time without being able to get anything done. Are you just on a downswing?

                                            • Software quality is fractal. You get 80% of the value from just crapping something out in 20 minutes, and the other 20% from spending five years and research team making it perfect. How do you know when to stop polishing the turd and move on?

                                            • There is a lot of non-programming work to do. You need to read your emails, go to standup, catch up on Slack, stay up to date with language changes, pick out your 401K options, get a flu shot, attend diversity training… By the time you get all that done, it’s 4 o’clock and too late to start work on any serious features.

                                            • It’s hard to work on a project if you don’t have intrinsic motivation. Not everyone has the luxury of working at a job they believe in, and even if you do get your dream job at the circus, sometimes you have to shovel the elephant poo. When your work seems pointless, productivity spirals and can stay down for a long time.

                                            • From the outside it’s very hard to judge if someone is just working on a hard problem or goldbricking. Especially in the age of remote work, but even in an office, no one else knows how much time you’re on Facebook and Lobsters in a day. Is it too much? No one knows.

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                                              I have never been in this situation. I worked for 4.5 years for a mid sized non-profit Auto-mat z.s. doing https://github.com/auto-mat/do-prace-na-kole . There was never a time that there was not years of work ahead of me there. I left because the money was not very good ($11 USD per hour pre tax as an independent contractor) and because we lacked vision for how to make a big impact with the changes we wanted to do. But there was never ever a time when we didn’t have work.

                                              I also worked lately for undisclosed clients via Toptal. Money is better, but there has never been a time when there wasn’t a lot of work.

                                              In my open source projects, I have also never struggled to find things to do.

                                              One thing really stood out to me in the article, however, which is this:

                                              “It is also customary to break up a simple task into a dozen pieces and then determine that each subtask is artificially difficult. For example, we had the task of deciding which software tool to use for a certain application. We had a list of features that were needed and four candidate tools, so we had to find out which of the tools covered more of the necessary features. This sounded to me like a simple task that could take one person a couple of days if done really thoroughly. But the task was broken up into four different subtasks to individually investigate each of the four candidate tools. Each of these four subtasks was assigned a window of many days to complete by two employees.”

                                              This just doesn’t make sense to me. Evaluating software tools that you didn’t write yourself is really really hard. The time budget of several days or weeks per tool seems totally reasonable to me, unless the tools were something like cat. I can’t even count the number of times I invested a large amount of time building on top of a tool before realizing that I made a wrong tooling choice. Heck, I’ve built out entire MVPs using toolkits based on the fact that the main documentation claimed a functionality that wasn’t even there. You can’t just trust the docs, you actually have to test these things. Does the author have any tips for quickly evaluating software? I’d love to hear them.

                                              Edit: That said, I have had my fair share of totally pointless meetings.

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                                                I find that evaluating software is hardest when you don’t yet know what you need. When you already have a strong idea, or experience with similar tools, it gets easier and easier.

                                                Software should match your process, and match the way you think about your stuff. If it doesn’t, you will suffer over time. So look for software that matches your abstractions. You find the abstractions in use and you can quickly evaluate if they are a fit for you.

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                                                  While it is important to match abstractions, features matter a lot. For example, I’ve been trying to figure out which localization library to use in rust for weeks now. I know that gnu’s gettext will support pluralization, but I don’t want to add another C binding library to the project if I can help it. There are then quite a few libs based on fluent (which might support pluralization; though that’s not clear to me). There’s not really much of an important “abstraction” question when we’re talking about translating strings, you just want a system that works, is clean and actually supports more languages than just English and French. I’ve found myself having to read the source code of open source software that depends on these libraries to try to figure out which ones have full pluralization support and so far I’ve come up empty handed. At some point, I might just have to give up and decide whether a C binding is worth pluralization support or not. Maybe I’m a perfectionist, but for me this has been far from easy.

                                                  Edit: I think I spent over a month trying to decide which notifications framework to use in Django.

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                                                I’ve experienced this off and on. Managing to do it for five consecutive years is impressive, but there were certainly stretches of consecutive months I’ve worked where nothing of note actually got done. Usually this manifests after a big re-org, where the executives are playing musical chairs and employees are scattered to random teams. The team gets a manager with some bullet point responsibilities, and we’re off to the races because you can’t just let expensive software engineers sit and do nothing! So random make-work tasks that help absolutely nobody are manufactured & assigned (e.g. evaluate this internal framework someone made to see if it would be useful for some hypothetical future product). People generally drag these out because humans are disinclined to work on things everybody understands are utterly without value, so nobody actually works anyway, but at least they are made to feel guilty about that. Of course this is very effective at generating burnout but our industry’s understanding of that phenomenon is basically nonexistent despite (I hypothesize) being one of the single largest drags on employee productivity to the tune of billions of dollars a year. Perhaps in a humane world employees would just be granted three months of sabbatical after the executive musical-chair games have concluded.

                                                One thing I also experienced was a large misalignment between the tasks I was told to complete during a sprint (complete with excruciatingly long biweekly meetings where we voted with fibbonacci numbers how long we thought the task would take, in unspecified units) and what I actually did, which was work on on-call issues impacting something tedious enough that only I had taken the time to understand it. Of course I wasn’t on call during those weeks, but if you’re the only one who understands a service that basically makes you permanently on call, especially when everyone else is too burnt out to learn it. So we had a fun year where I’m pretty sure the tasks on the board didn’t change one tiny bit. Didn’t stop us from doing 1 hour of daily standup and a 3 hour biweekly planning meeting, though.

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                                                  Meanwhile, in the public sector, we’re chronically understaffed and overworked.

                                                  The ‘agile task bloating’ discussion reminded me of this episode of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

                                                  The whole thing sounds overall like looking at the phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs, and thinking it’s somehow unique to the software industry.

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                                                    Yeah, I’m surprised the post never mentions Graeber’s book since it’s exactly the same phenomenon.

                                                    Graeber points out that part of the reason companies have so many workers with so little work is that having a lot of underlings is a measure of prestige, so executives push to hire as many people as they can to build up their personal fiefdoms and project an aura of importance, because everyone has to at least pretend to believe that those people are all busy doing real work.

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                                                    That would eat me up from the inside.

                                                    If you’re being told not to do work in the company because it would eat into someone else’s work, what about outside the company: open source. My team files upstream issues and tracks work on upstream PRs on our regular Kanban. Managers who don’t understand the value can be sold on how it’s improving stability (predictability which you point out businesses love) and helps level up employees.

                                                    Then if/when you’re finally fed up and want to move on, you’ve got a nice portfolio of work and have grown as a dev.

                                                    I talk a bit about finding ways to work on open source during your day job in my book https://howtoopensource.dev. Always in hearing what works and what doesn’t for others.

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                                                      I am skeptical of things I read on the internet. I am even more skeptical of articles that seem to be written specifically to draw a large number of views. I admit that I clicked on the link, I admit that I read the first few paragraphs. At that point I stopped reading.

                                                      1. As someone famous once said: You can fool some of the people some of the time, it may even be possible to fool all of the people for some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people for all of the time. This goes both for coasting at work and filler clickbait articles.
                                                      2. A particular personality type might be able to coast at specific jobs, but I doubt such jobs are aplenty in most tech companies.
                                                      3. Particular jobs might fall into a crack where accountability and motivation are both low, enabling this kind of behavior, especially in forgotten corners of large companies, but those cracks are few.
                                                      4. I have worked at a startup that grew and at a mature company. I have worked in academia. I’ve collaborated with employees in companies that do government contracts. I’ve seen people working inefficiently. I’ve seen people working futilely. I’ve seen people distracted from their main task, following a rabbit hole. It was mostly not their fault. It might not even have been the manager’s fault. But I have never seen anyone slack off.
                                                      1. 7

                                                        You’re very right that this post doesn’t do a very good job when it comes to the topic of how widespread the problem is; it’s based entirely on anecdata and conjecture.

                                                        However, if you’re looking for a more rigorous treatment of the topic, David Graeber’s book Bullshit Jobs is a great read: https://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/david-graeber-bullshit-jobs Graeber’s analysis shows this to be a much more widespread problem than your experience might lead you to encounter, probably because you’ve been able to avoid getting hired by the kind of people who perpetuate these patterns.

                                                        1. 3

                                                          Thank you very much for that link. I started to read it, but I have to ask, since you have read it: it reads a bit like “I know what jobs should exist (manufacturing jobs) and these are not manufacturing jobs, so they are bullshit jobs.” Everything he lists seems a quite reasonable job. I mean it may feel right to say these jobs shouldn’t exist, but thankfully we’re not a command economy and are insulated from that particular kind of hubris. Someone is paying for that service/good, which is why it exists.

                                                          1. 5

                                                            It’s a good question, and I can see why you would think that by reading the first few bits. There is a section of the book that addresses the question of defining it, because it obviously is very subjective. The key is that he defines it according to the judgement of the person doing the job:

                                                            Final Working Definition: a bullshit job is a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.

                                                            Someone is paying for that service/good, which is why it exists.

                                                            This is true in some sense, but one of the key points of the book is that many jobs exist specifically in order to boost the prestige of executives and managers. In certain kinds of organizations, having a large number of underlings is a source of political power, in a way that is completely disconnected from those people doing productive work. As you might expect, organizations with that particular dysfunction tend to be larger than they otherwise would be, meaning these jobs are also more numerous than you would expect.

                                                            1. 4

                                                              Someone is paying for that service/good, which is why it exists.

                                                              Not quite. Some services exist solely to seek rent from the economy. Landlords, tax preparers, insurance firms, payday loan sharks, timeshare resellers, multi-level marketers, and more; these lines of work only exist to leech money without providing useful goods or services in return. Worse, many of them provide useless goods and services!

                                                              1. 1

                                                                Personal solutions

                                                                • Landlords: Pay money so I don’t have to worry about snow removal, mowing and repairing the roof? Not a bad deal. Or do you mean bad landlords? That requires moving to a less crowded place.
                                                                • Tax Preparers: Fill it out yourself and send it in by mail.
                                                                • Insurance firms: This I don’t understand. I would like to hear about a world without insurance.
                                                                • Payday loan sharks: Financial education (basically, this is never the right solution no matter how dire your straits)
                                                                • Timeshare resellers: Don’t buy this stuff
                                                                • Multi-level marketers; Don’t be greedy. Don’t get into this

                                                                Legislative solutions

                                                                • Landlords: Do you mean large companies buying up all the houses to rent out? Laws to prevent a single entity from owning more than one (or four) units except if they own the whole building, perhaps?
                                                                • Tax Preparers: IRS should fill out our tax returns. If we agree, click “OK’ otherwise same as now.
                                                                • Insurance firms: This I don’t understand. I would like to hear about a world without insurance.
                                                                • Payday loan sharks: Financial education mandated in school
                                                                • Multi-level marketers; Financial education in school
                                                                1. 5

                                                                  Landlords: Pay money so I don’t have to worry about snow removal, mowing and repairing the roof? Not a bad deal. Or do you mean bad landlords? That requires moving to a less crowded place.

                                                                  These things are often not done by the landlord, they are done by the landlord’s agent. The landlord takes money from you, keeps some, and uses the rest to pay someone to perform these tasks. Their income derives solely from having capital, not from doing any work. This is pretty much the purest sense of ‘rent seeking’ as an economics term.

                                                                  1. 1

                                                                    Someone has something that other people want and they earn a living off providing that. Where’s the problem? What kind of world would it be if you could not do that? If people just took your stuff from you? Not a world I want to live in.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      I think you need to read a lot more about economics before we can usefully have this conversation. I did not make a value judgement at all in my post, I attempted to explain a concept in economics. Your reply reads like you didn’t read the link that @Corbin posted at all and just want to have a political argument. This is not the right forum for that argument.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        these lines of work only exist to leech money without providing useful goods or services in return.

                                                                        Sounds like a value judgement to me.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Please link to the post where you think I said that.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            My post was in response to the post that said that. You made a reply to my reply. I assumed that your post had more meaning than “Landlords who ask for rent are rent seeking.” but perhaps I was mistaken and that was indeed all you wrote and you had no opinion on the post I was originally responding to, re: Landlords (and other) behaviors.


                                                                      2. 3

                                                                        Landlords don’t provide housing supply. Indeed, landlords have the ability to decrease housing supply by refusing to lease or sublet.

                                                                        You really ought to take an introductory economics course; housing obeys most rules of economics, as a necessary (normal) good, and so any rent-seeking behavior is going to do the normal thing: raise prices, decrease supply, distort market.

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          I’m trying to think if I would like to live in a world where people are prohibited or heavily regulated from employing capital. Taking your example: If I own a house and do not live in it, do you envision a world where I must sell the house? Would I be barred from renting it? Would it stop at houses or also extend to the tools I own? Would your world stop Home Depot from renting out tools? What about my money? Could I rent it out?

                                                                        2. 1

                                                                          if you could not do that? If people just took your stuff from you?

                                                                          You’re making quite a leap here. “No rent-seeking” does not automatically translate to a chaotic frenzy where people can just take your stuff. But to answer your question, one possible world without landlords is a world where everyone is housed.

                                                                          1. 1

                                                                            one possible world without landlords is a world where everyone is housed.

                                                                            Not sure how that follows. Landlords aren’t in the game to keep houses empty. They have an enormous incentive to rent out the home and house someone.

                                                                            I would rather predict that a world where people can’t rent out housing they own would lead to housing being kept empty as owners wait out housing down turns to sell units they no longer need. Or a thriving blackmarket in rentals.

                                                                            Or do you envision a world where the state has a monopoly on housing?

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                                                                              I actually envision a world without a state.

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                                                                                If you are joking, well, you have your joke. If you are serious, I think I can’t learn any more from you, but thank you for the conversation.

                                                                      3. 1

                                                                        Payday loans are outright illegal in some parts of the USA. MLMs are heavily regulated federally; pyramid schemes are illegal, and lotteries are generally either illegal, state-run, or heavily regulated.

                                                                        A world without insurance is pretty simple; just give public oversight to management of risk funds. Then, all members of society can directly have their risks automatically hedged at all times. The only remaining needs for insurance are business-to-business and can be reformulated as service contracts. (If this sounds silly, consider the contrapositive: would you want a world where e.g. food stamps are privatized into “hunger insurance”? If everybody gets sick and dies, why do we need “health insurance” or “life insurance”?)

                                                                        1. 1

                                                                          Will we have nationalized

                                                                          1. Health insurance
                                                                          2. Disability insurance
                                                                          3. Life insurance
                                                                          4. Home insurance (Flood, Fire, Earthquake, Hail, Termite)
                                                                          5. Car insurance
                                                                          6. Rental car insurance
                                                                          7. Bank deposit insurance
                                                                          8. Renters insurance
                                                                          9. Boat insurance
                                                                          10. Medical malpractice insurance

                                                                          I am skeptical of a political entity being able to run such insurance in a scale covering 350 million people in different markets. In theory its great because you have a giant pool, so the premiums (taxes) needed for the fund will go down, but management is key in such large organization. I don’t know that politically appointed organizations are great at such management.

                                                                          For medical insurance specifically: Britain’s NHS and Canada’s system are of course nearby examples for health. It is not clear to me that this is worth the upheaval. I have never heard convincing arguments that innovation in health will continue to occur under a nationalized system. I suspect, like the NHS, there will be stagnation at best.

                                                                          My core concern with any nationalized system is that its a monopoly. Monopolies are very hard to change, make accountable and have zero incentive for efficiency.

                                                                          1. 2

                                                                            For medical insurance specifically: Britain’s NHS and Canada’s system are of course nearby examples for health.

                                                                            The UK (and maybe Canada, I’m not familiar with the system) have nationalized health providers. This is separate from national insurance, like in Switzerland, where everyone must have medical insurance (and the state subsidizes it for very poor people) but the actual services are a mix of state and private care.

                                                                            It makes a huge amount of sense from a political economy standpoint to ensure that basic health coverage is spread among all citizens. The US system, which combines substandard coverage with enormous costs, is a paradise for rent-seekers and hell for everyone else.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              I’m not familiar with the Swiss system, however the system you describe sounds like the system in MA: you can have any insurance you want, but you have to have insurance (you pay a fine if you don’t) but the state will subsidize your insurance if you can’t pay. This is a state mandate and a means based subsidy. The insurance carriers are still independent, private entities.

                                                                              Do you envision such a state mandate + needs based subsidy for each category that I listed, or just for health?

                                                                              Or is it medicare for all (single payer) kind of system?

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I was just pointing out that mandatory health insurance can coexist with a mix of health providers. The entire system does not have to be run by one provider.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  Ok, so you are a proponent of a single payer system (like medicare). There are bargaining advantages (for the people) but it is not immediately clear to me what the long term effects of such a single payer system are. What is the motivation for innovation, for example.

                                                                                  I suppose one motivation is for a bigger piece of the pie: offer better services for the same fixed price everyone gets, or offer cheaper services. The problem starts to arise when you can’t pick providers (insurance companies already restrict the providers they work with, a national insurance corporation will most certainly do the same).

                                                                                  I personally believe it is an idea worth exploring, perhaps by gradually increasing coverage (say state by state, or income group by group). Just not clear to me what happens long term.

                                                                    2. 2

                                                                      Someone is paying for that service/good, which is why it exists.

                                                                      Is that really the same as a service/good being valuable though?

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Yes, at least to the person paying for it.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          (Points to distinction between use-value and exchange-value)

                                                                        2. 1

                                                                          Once again, I am thankful I don’t live in a command economy where individuals get to decide what I should find valuable.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            I’ve never worked a job where my employer didn’t dictate what was valuable to them and I’ve never lived in a democratic economy that wasn’t organized top-down. Sounds nice though.

                                                                            1. 1

                                                                              Really. What fresh hell do you live in? I live in the United States, where I find that anyone with energy and imagination can make a go of it. I lived in India in the 1990s and even there, despite the heavy government involvement in everything I found people making their own independent ways. Of course, the people got tired of that and got rid of a lot of the red tape in the 2000s.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I also live in the US, where I find that people can make a go of it as long as it’s profitable. In my estimation it’s the prioritization of profit over actual value to society that drives the proliferation of bullshit jobs (because people in charge value prestige, among other things), as well as more dire things like pollution and carbon emissions.

                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                  actual value to society

                                                                                  Who measures this? Who gets to decide what is valuable for society?

                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                    Good questions. There are lots of ways to measure this and not one single source for all of it. We would need to rely on the experts in various fields to gather and interpret the data for us. But I would argue that some useful metrics would include global temperature (i.e. mitigating climate change as much as possible), life expectancy (currently in decline in the US), wealth equality (in sharp decline in the US for the last few decades), infant mortality (rising in the US), regional and biodiversity (in decline pretty much everywhere), pollution levels, criminal recidivism rates, racial equity in the education/medical/housing/prison/etc. systems, the gender pay gap…I’m sure there are a lot of other things but these are just from the top of my head.

                                                                                    In terms of who gets to decide, we all do–or should. And of course “how” is a very large question with no concise answer–there is a lot of valid discussion to be had about the relevance and nuances of any given metric. The point is that profitability is far and away the #1 driver of which problems people have the resources to work on (unless they want to be relegated to the non-profit sector, which has its own problems). But for the first time in history, I think we have the logistical and technological capacity to provide for people’s basic needs so that we can start to tackle these various aspects of quality of life more directly, and focus less on this indirection of aligning with the profit-motive. That’s the purpose of the distinction.

                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                      Good questions. There are lots of ways to measure this and not one single source for all of it. We would need to rely on the experts in various fields to gather and interpret the data for us. But I would argue that some useful metrics would include global temperature (i.e. mitigating climate change as much as possible), life expectancy (currently in decline in the US), wealth equality (in sharp decline in the US for the last few decades), infant mortality (rising in the US), regional and biodiversity (in decline pretty much everywhere), pollution levels, criminal recidivism rates, racial equity in the education/medical/housing/prison/etc. systems, the gender pay gap…I’m sure there are a lot of other things but these are just from the top of my head.

                                                                                      These are your values. Excellent. They do not have to be everyone’s values.

                                                                                      In terms of who gets to decide, we all do–or should

                                                                                      We do so currently with currency. It’s the quickest and most honest way to vote.

                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                        No. As I said, there is a level of indirection where if you care about solving any of these you first have to align your mission with the profit motive. The idea of profitable solutions to things like climate change and wealth inequality is laughable. Are you seriously arguing that the profit motive does not dilute any worthwhile endeavors?

                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                          The profit motive is shaped by legislation and by fashions, which determines what is profitable and not.

                                                                                          For example, in MA, a certain amount of our tax money is going into putting solar panels on people’s roofs. People who would otherwise not use solar are employing private companies to install solar capacity.

                                                                                          It’s not clear to me that this is a good solution to anything, but it is what the people have decided. I may not think its worthwhile (as opposed to a large solar power plant in one of our deserts, for example, piping power further north) but I don’t get to, alone, decide that.

                                                                                          What is not worthwhile to you is worthwhile to someone else. I think it is important that we all remember this.

                                                                                          1. 2

                                                                                            I am aware of how legislation shapes markets under capitalism. The other side of the equation is how markets (or rather, billionaires who currently control the markets) shape legislation. In fact, a Princeton study found zero correlation between what the majority of Americans support and what actually gets signed into law. This is a logical and unsurprising consequence of the “vote with your dollar”: a lot of people get no votes while a small minority get almost all of them.

                                                                                            So yeah. I completely agree that my values are not everyone’s values, and that maybe most people don’t care about biodiversity, for example, but that is beside the point. The point is that most people’s values, whatever they are, are not able to be fully expressed in the current order.

                                                                                            I’m 100% serious about the state, by the way, although I have no illusions that it’s at all likely to happen in our lifetimes! Thanks to you as well. Even if you decided not to learn anything, it was a fun exercise. I’ll leave you with this quote from Ursula K. Le Guin:

                                                                                            We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.

                                                                            2. 5

                                                                              I am certain that you do live in such a “command” economy. I’m going to assume that you live in a place where there is at least one person who sells glass windows. That person would find it valuable for someone to go around your neighbourhood and throw rocks through all the windows. The rock tosser gets a salary and the glass maker sells more of their product. Both individuals find this transaction beneficial, but I strongly suspect that this would be illegal where you live.

                                                                              As a society, we intentionally ban profitable actions with negative externalities (e.g. hitman, arsonist, thief). However, our legislature moves slowly and new such occupation (e.g. paid fake yelp reviews) pop up quickly. We cannot yet call these jobs criminal, but they are bullshit.

                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                I got a different definition of bullshit jobs that made more sense to me earlier up this thread which defines “bullshit jobs” as a catchy term for sinecures.

                                                                                The type of jobs you define as “bullshit” I would call “shady”. That sweet spot where it’s clear harm is being done to many and benefit to the few but legislation and enforcement haven’t caught up yet.

                                                                    3. 11

                                                                      I’ve never encountered precisely this, but the bit at the end reminds me of a complaint that I’ve made repeatedly over the last two decades:

                                                                      A lot of tech companies’ hiring process revolves around identifying problem solvers. This is weird because it assumes that solving problems is hard. There is no shortage of people that can solve problems in most spaces. The shortage is of people who can identify which problems are worth solving. A vast amount of productivity is lost to people working hard to solve completely the wrong problem. This is why research divisions in companies (should) exist, but that isn’t enough (and may not help if the research divisions have the same problem-solving mentality - I’ve certainly reviewed a lot of papers from universities that solve a problem that will be rendered irrelevant as soon as someone solves the right adjacent problem).

                                                                      I’ve also encountered the -1X programmer. The person whose work is so bad that it takes a moderately competent person longer to fix bugs that they’ve introduced than it would take that person to just write their code in the first place. In the worst case, these folks are shunted into strategic positions because no one on their team wants them touching code, so they get to become -100X programmers by defining a strategy where 100 people work on the wrong problem. This is depressingly common.

                                                                      1. 1

                                                                        Ouch, this one hits hard because I know the feeling. I sometimes feel paralyzed by the amount of technical debt I need to shovel before finishing a task.

                                                                      2. 11

                                                                        Honestly, being in this situation sounds really nice. As an independent consultant I make about 100k in a good year and get to spend like 70% of my time researching and writing on niche software topics. If I was in this situation I’d still have that 70% research time, but now I’ve got a steady paycheck and non-market health insurance.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          The problem is that you don’t get that 70% research time, because you have to spend that time pretending to work. Pretending to work takes almost as much time as actually working, but, more importantly, is often more tiring than actually working.

                                                                        2. 7

                                                                          This article captures my experience in big tech quite accurately. Especially the section about trading productivity for predictability. In my current role, not finishing tasks in a sprint is a Big Deal (we have a deadline to hit!), and so task bloating is made crazy because of it. And have to love not being able to bring additional work to a sprint. Of course this is far better than my previous role at BigCo where there were so many people there quite literally wasn’t enough work at a given time for everyone…

                                                                          Startups and small companies are different, and one of the main reasons I’m looking to transition back to them. The author talks about productive work, and what it looks like, and it closely resembles what I’ve seen as well. Autonomy and purpose are huge motivators, and the secret to so many overworked early-stage startup employees is that the work is really fun. Many of us got into this field because we enjoy it, so it’s no wonder when given the autonomy we make the most of it.

                                                                          Two things that I’ve also found which weren’t mentioned in the article are (1) promotion-oriented developers and (2) promotion-oriented managers. At BigCo these two are far more prevalent, and some big reasons for complexity bloat (slowing things down) and people bloat (slowing things down). If a developer is promoted based on the complexity of projects, this is to be expected, and the same with a manager who is promoted based on number of reports.

                                                                          The whole system is absurd, but I view it as a generally good thing. Small companies will be able to out-compete big companies (aside from anti-competitive practices), which provides for general progress. Of course, the biggest issue right now are those anti-competitive practices which don’t seem to be getting regulated any time soon.

                                                                          1. 7

                                                                            One thing not discussed is the “waiting time” between segments of work. Let’s say I’ve spent several hours on some task, written some code, tested it, and submitted a pull request. Now I wait for this code to be reviewed. I could directly ping people on slack asking them to review (GitHub also has a notification system but it’s through email and people might have filtered this out because they get too much email). God help you if the recommendation is for your PR to get reviewed in a weekly group code review as then you’re waiting multiple days. Now most of us will find other code to work on and maybe submit multiple other PRs, but you probably don’t want to have too many parallel PRs in progress, so you wait and you also have to think about not overburdening other engineers and QA engineers (who have carefully planned the sprint to meet a certain velocity).

                                                                            All this waiting time is not necessarily a bad thing. People can use such time to post on Lobsters (or other things).

                                                                            1. 7

                                                                              This person isn’t employed “in tech”, they have been employed in tech roles at companies which traditionally are amongst the worst at adopting and managing tech.

                                                                              Maybe this person doesn’t have very strong skills to start with? Bank jobs are not “working in tech”, and laughably so.

                                                                              This person has an incredibly small sample size and thinks they are qualified to reveal “the truth” to outsiders, and to that, I say, what a jerk!

                                                                              I have over 25 years of experience and I have had to work - a lot - everywhere I have worked. When I’m interviewing, I try to filter out people like this, because if they think that their bank job is representative of what should be expected of them, they’ll probably show up and do the same in a team where I actually need help.


                                                                              1. 6

                                                                                So many thoughts on this - having occupied a variety of roles in tech over the past 25 years, from being a “PC technician” at a small local computer store in the 90s, to University IT helpdesk, to software developer, consultant, and most recently director of engineering.

                                                                                Businesspeople love predictability. They like to estimate in advance how much a project would cost and how long it would take. This can be surprisingly difficult in some disciplines.

                                                                                This is so true. The Principles of Product Development Flow goes into detail about just how much businesses will chuck under the bus for predictability, including a lot of pace of delivery. Striking the right balance here is hard but my experience is that most companies bias far too heavily towards predictability over other concerns, and (literally) pay for it.

                                                                                The most famous one is scrum. The adoption of a recipe results in a box-ticking exercise that makes companies believe they become agile just by strictly abiding by a set of inflexible rules. The effect is the opposite.

                                                                                Scrum is a mitigation for pathological organisations. If you have to metaphorically lock your team in a box to ensure they can work without interruptions, fix that, don’t introduce Scrum.

                                                                                Just a few weeks ago, for example, a company reached out to me looking for advice on how they could use ChatGPT in their accounting software. They said this was because they were trying to raise funding, and investors wouldn’t like it if they weren’t using ChatGPT for something.

                                                                                I’ve worked with a startup client who were adamant they wanted to use the currently-hyped tech for that exact reason, and did not respond at all well to our advice that there was no benefit whatsoever to doing so. I’ve learned that this mindset is a massive red flag for prospective clients and employers.

                                                                                Moreover, the benefits of many tech projects are intangible. If you promise to build an “AI-based insights engine,” it is hard for businesspeople to understand the return on investment.

                                                                                Then someone isn’t doing their job. Or, perhaps it’s a genuine R&D project with highly uncertain returns; in which case, the ROI lives at a level of abstraction one higher, at the ROI programme level, not the specific project.

                                                                                The most common characteristic I see behind truly productive tech work is that the people involved prioritize building the right product above everything else. They build it in small cycles and validate it, which follows the agile philosophy, but they don’t limit themselves to a strict agile recipe.

                                                                                Yes! And that is, in fact, clearly spelled out in the Agile Manifesto!

                                                                                Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

                                                                                Working software over comprehensive documentation

                                                                                Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

                                                                                Responding to change over following a plan

                                                                                That is a recipe for Agile success :) Of course, the Manifesto goes on to say:

                                                                                That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.

                                                                                It’s very important to understand that “over” here is set by context; for example, the value of comprehensive documentation may be much higher in a regulated environment than, say, a small startup in an unregulated space.

                                                                                “Being Agile in a regulated environment” is a particularly interesting challenge.

                                                                                1. 9

                                                                                  Cue dozens of commenters sharing their experiences that contradict or support the author’s thesis b/c low and behold, everything is always more nuanced than it seems.

                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                    This is good. I can leave at exctly 5:01 pm (I actually leave at 4 or 3:45 =)).

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      Lots of arbitrary taxonomy here about how writing quant software is not ‘in tech’. It’s at least as ‘tech’ as working in advertising or order fulfilment companies like Meta, Twitter, Youtube, Amazon… How many of you are actually designing new CPU architectures?

                                                                                      1. 3

                                                                                        Computer science at university hardly prepared me for a life working in theatre.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          I experienced a version of this. I’ve seen all the inefficiencies and dogmatism of agile/scrum, magnified even more by “experts” who have a cottage industry promoting and enforcing it. Predictable vs productive is spot on.

                                                                                          A difference I’ve experienced in every large company I’ve worked for is they always brought new work into the sprint if you ran out. So task bloat was a productive measure so you wouldn’t be blamed for not getting work done, when a task was brought in at the end of the sprint.

                                                                                          I also want to highlight that the predictable nature is an illusion: we’d just be moving deck chairs on the titanic.

                                                                                          1. 1

                                                                                            I have too at a few big tech companies I worked for.

                                                                                          2. 2

                                                                                            A serious question: are any of these jobs remote? How do people find these jobs?

                                                                                            1. 6

                                                                                              How do people find these jobs?

                                                                                              Presumably during their downtime at work.

                                                                                            2. 2

                                                                                              Wish it was like that for me.

                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                I voted for a difficulty score of 1, the lowest possible, as it was a 10-minute task. However, my colleagues didn’t agree; they voted that my task was harder than it looked and worthy of several days of work.

                                                                                                Part of me thinks wishes that there is a fair bit of embellishment in this article with the above quote as an example. But while this is not my experience, I realise that it is probably quite somewhat common place.

                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                  I have NFI where all these no-work people are working, but I’ve never worked there.