Friday, June 19, 2009

But It's Only One Straw

Now that General Motors is effectively a government-owned corporation, it's shackled to it's greatest enemy - politics.

[Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, chairman of the House Committee on Financial Services] says the distribution center employs only about 80 people and keeping it open a while longer won't break the budget. Frank also says that with the government propping up GM with $50 billion, politicians are within their rights to scrutinize decisions.
Government Stake In GM Creates Complications
In effect, Frank is saying, it's a little thing. It won't break GM's bank. Of course it won't. Say what you will about Frank, but he's not politically stupid. He's not about to advocate something that would put the smoking gun of a complete failure of GM in his hands. And neither is anyone else in Congress. What will happen instead is that they'll nickel and dime the company to death.

It works like this. Once, when I was a Quality Assurance manager, we were having trouble with our schedules. We were hitting our dates, but sometimes, it wasn't pretty. So I started investigating. After a bit of creative prying (it's good to be the boss), I learned that time was being diverted to small requests on the part of the development team. So in that Friday's team meeting, I laid down the law. "None of you," I solemnly intoned, "Are to be working on ANYTHING that I haven't expressly authorized you to be working on, or you're fired." Now, everyone understood that I wasn't really making a threat - I was simply giving them cover, and they took full advantage of it.

It was about 9:30 Monday morning when the first developer came into my office, wanting to know why they were being told they had to talk to me if they had a request for a tester. By Tuesday afternoon, nearly the entire development team had been in my office. As I explained to the development director on Wednesday morning, none of the individual requests were a problem, but taken together, they were costing my team nearly two and half person/workdays a week, and that time was impacting our projects. Of course, none of the individual developers thought they were responsible, which was reasonable. No single one of them was to blame. But they all should have understood the aggregate impact of their actions.

Now our Congress is preparing to go to bat for a million reasonable requests. And if their combined weight pushes GM beneath the waves again, there'll be plenty of blame to go around. Just not enough for anyone to accept any themselves.

1 comment:

twif said...

programmers should have been doing their own damn unit testing anyway.