Um, Yes. This. And a Word of Advice.

Thursday, February 10, 2011
My friend Jim over at Stonekettle Station wrote an excellent piece today about Things You Shouldn't Have to Tell Business Leaders. Included in in the list is the following:
- Don’t teach your grandmother how to suck eggs, i.e. MBA’s shouldn’t be making engineering decisions, or telling programmers how to code, or making medical treatment decisions, or etc and so on. Being fluent in jargon does not equal actual knowledge or experience. You have experts for a reason, listen to them.  If you’ve outsourced all your expertise, better learn to speak Chinese.
Um, yes. This. How very timely.

If I am your engineer, and I tell you that there is technical risk involved in pursuing a specific course of action, and I tell you why there is risk, the appropriate course of action is not to run willy-nilly with your hair on fire down that risky road because I told you something you didn't want to hear. The appropriate course of action is not to make me reiterate that warning again and again, in shriller and shriller tones, because you're just so anxious to get this thing done that you're not listening to the experts. The appropriate course of action is to manage that risk by looking at possible outcomes and then exploring ways to mitigate possible negative results, Chicken Little.

A word of advice when it comes to working with engineers: We don't like to be put in positions where we're forced to be shrill in order to make our point. Begging people to listen to us when we know we're right makes us feel like harpies. Devalued harpies. Instead, we're far more likely to warn you about your potential blunder once or twice, then let you and your customer fall on your face if you fail to heed our warnings. These sorts of object lessons in teaching your grandmother how to suck eggs provide a deep-seated sense of schadenfreude, bwahaha, so don't push your luck. Or do push your luck - and be prepared to look like a blithering idiot while we snicker behind our hands. We're covered either way.

Yellowknife is looking better and better.

7 comments:

Jim Wright said...

I seem to have touched nerves for a lot of people with that post.

I can't imagine why. ;)

Womanji said...

Amen Sister. Your re-post and post goes for anyone with an expertise.

Nathan said...

I hesitate to point out the obvious, but you do know that picture of Yellowknife was taken during the one month per year when water can be seen in its liquid form, right?

Darren said...

I work in Information Security. My FSM do I feel your pain...

Except we get it from management and from a particularly "special" set of analysts and engineers that think that because they have a technical skillset, my technical skillset is obviously unimportant.

This becomes amusing when they realize that I have their technical skillset too. ;-)

Megan said...

Nathan, I'll have you know that it has warmed up to -23 here in Yellowknife today.

Warner (aka ntsc) said...

Why are you snickering behind your hands?

neurondoc said...

Yes. I understand that feeling. Non-medical person, please don't make my decision for me by reading off some sort of list your supervisor gave you.