Saturday, February 17, 2007


Complaining about Complaining

Ever have someone complain to others about particular features in software that may have wrote but become puzzled as to why no one opened their pie hole and told you directly?

People experience emotional reactions to receiving specific pieces of information, or being exposed to specific ideas. Rather than discuss why they have this fear, and maybe doing something about it, or discussing the information or ideas themselves, they instead choose to project their own emotional state onto some kind of faux "objective" measure, which they promptly use to derail the discussion entirely. It is entirely false, it comes from a position of emotional and intellectual instability, and it is only useful to those who want to hide from reality.

This is called the Head in Sand Pattern. It is not very admirable but is pervasively practiced. One reason this may occur with frequency is that on the other side, if folks don't recognize that people don't believe they have a reason to listen, then may choose not to do so. You can expect certain kinds of reactions from people in certain frames of mind - including the Ostrich Pattern from the listener as well.

Of course this doesn't relieve one of the obligation to say what needs to be said. Honesty is more important than people's feelings. If the truth (or your viewpoint of it) upsets folks, or if they choose to ignore it, then so be it. Does transparency in terms of communications hurt or help build trust over the long haul? Is building trust more important than causing harm to the positive vibes in the short term?

Some say that trust needs to be built which I think is 100% wrong. Children are born completely loving and trusting. They are totally depedent. That have to be taught bad patterns. If you are a manager or a leader (or even don't know the difference between the two) have you ever asked yourself, what bad patterns do you encourage?

Have you ever read Maslow and the hierarchy of needs? At one level, I think it is a logical framework but on the other hand, I think it is also a crutch as it steers folks into a sheeplike trance where the unwashed masses insist on a safer world. What is life without risk and danger? Actually, we do need to eliminate danger is all about personal peril but we should be savage in not reducing but in increasing risk!

Risk is about opportunity. People generally find meeting new challenges exciting. Meeting new challenges involves risk. If you're not willing to risk screwing up, losing, going broke, getting injured, dying, etc then you're denying yourself the chance to experience success, excitement, bliss, ecstacy, thrill, happiness, joy and satisfaction. Would society or the enterprise be better off if we stopped prefering mediated experiences to real ones?

Ever run across a CIO who talks about building software and you know he hasn't ever written a single high-quality line of code in his/her life? Doesn't it feel dishonest? Ever run across a co-worker who talks about how they are building a house when in all reality, they simply called up a general contractor and placed an order. How many of us truly have the skills to build a house? For the record, I haven't ever done one from scratch but have done all the steps after pouring the foundation and framing.

Maybe I should stop complaining and instead go watch an IMax movie on climbing Mount Everest instead of actually losing weight and getting in better shape so that I could possibly do it for real. Practically speaking, it is less risk and reduced costs to watch the movie than to experience Mount Everest first hand. One has to figure out what they really fear whether it is getting hurt, the prohibitive cost, the inability to select the right equipment without calling up an industry analyst firm, trusting your climbing buddies especially if they are coworkers, etc...

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