Thursday, April 28, 2005

Work has sucked lately.

Without getting too technical, work has really sucked lately.

First of all, my group had to make a few changes for the "global good" - which meant scrapping a good, working, system, for the crappy, universally used system. Imagine, if you will, exchanging your cell phone with the telegraph system. Horrible step backward, yes? That's what we had to do. Everyone else is using the telegraph system, and "yes", it can be made to work, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

And, I've lost the last two weeks converting my group from the cell phones to the telegraph system. Crappy.

'nuff said about the stupid system.

The other reason work has sucked is the customer. I don't normally hate the customer, but this customer happens to be an internal customer - as in "we're in the same department." We'd be first-cousins, twice-removed if the org-chart were a family tree. I'll leave names out in case any Intel folks read this.

But anyway, the reason I'm currently hating them is that they're not listening. They're not applying any analytical thought to the problems at hand. A "real" customer (a chip designer - someone my customer interacts with) wants to do something, so they're mucking with some numbers in a particular file. Fine, the designer wants to change our tool's behavior. Great, I'm happy to oblige. All I ask is, "Why are they doing X? Is it because they intend for this particular consequence? If that's the case, then why not use this well-defined interface?"

That's it, I'm asking for what the designer really wants. And, if it's what I think it is, they just have to do something a little differently. And for good reason.

To put it in English, and not vague terms. Let's say you're a tool manufacturer - you make hammers, screwdrivers, chisels, etc. One customer comes in and says, "This hammer is broken, fix it!" You look at the hammer, it appears to be in good shape. You would likely ask the question, "What are you doing with the hammer? What is it you want to get done?" Simple questions. But you only get back the answer, "It's not doing what I want it to do."
Around and around you go. Never getting an answer.

You have a sneaking suspicion that the customer really wants to screw two pieces of wood together, and the hammer just isn't doing the job that well. So, you politely suggest, "I think you're trying to screw two pieces of wood together, perhaps a screwdriver would be more appropriate? We've got this fine selection."

But there's no direct response to that question, only, "Get the hammer to work."

Seriously, it's that bad.

I've presented an alternative, nearly pain-free (just a tiny bit of education is needed) solution. I've asked several times for the customer's desire, and I'm just being stone-walled.

The best "answer" I've gotten so far is that "all the customers are going to use hammers, so you'd better get them to work."

It's just a one-way street, and all the shite is running down the gutters my way.

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