Software, technology, sysadmin war stories, and more. Feed
Sunday, July 1, 2012

You're a weather vane? That blows.

I once described someone as a weather vane. I was using this to refer to how they dealt with directives and other commands from on high. Basically, they would point whichever way the wind was blowing, no matter if it was right or wrong.

Here's what it looks like in practice. For a year or so, you have this boss who's spouting all of this ridiculous trash about how such and such has to be open-source, so you can't use the voluminous libraries created by the other internal programmers at your massive company. After all, the internal corporate code depot is super secret, and you can't get things all muddled up... or so he said.

Never mind the fact that we weren't there to run an open-source project. We were there to get things done internally with that code, and if it happened to be releasable, so be it. What it meant in reality was that we had our own half-assed versions of everything written by one of the local programmers who weren't really that good in the first place.

Anyway, my "weather vane" person went along with that. He wouldn't rock the boat. The manager who was running the show was the strongest source of "wind", and so this other person went with it.

Well, eventually, this evil dictator was sent packing, and the wind changed. What happened then? Did my "weather vane" person stick with his guns? After all, if what we were doing before was so good and righteous, it should still be that way even with the tin pot dictator gone.

Nope. He swung around to follow the next new thing.

I realize now that this may have made him the perfect candidate to replace the dictator. He wound up being hand-picked to become manager of that team. It now occurs to me that the guy who did the picking realized that having an army of minions who all follow you without question might be a good thing.

It isn't, but if you are a power monger with no desire to build the right thing and make things actually work, who cares?