Thursday, June 23, 2005

Preacher Preacher

"The beginning and end of imagination, all at the same time." Those were the words that the narrator of the movie 'Seabiscuit', used to voice his opinion about the 'Great Industrial Revolution'. Those were the words that stuck with me after I watched 'Seabiscuit', a true story brilliantly captured in 8mm. Set in the backdrop of 'The Great Depression', its about a horse that many thought should be put to sleep. The horse however had plans of its own and went on to encourage three individuals and in turn the nation, to triumph over adversity.

We have this thing called a readers club in office which offers the readers to delve deeper into the books through discussions. Each group consists of about 5 people. Our first was a book on good programming methodology. We then read a book called 'The soul of a new machine', a 1980 pulitzer prize winner. We are currently in the middle of a book called 'Zapp! The lightning of empowerment'. Its a book for managers on ways to motivate their employees.

So there we were midway through the book, discussing, relating parts of the book to instances in office, suggesting improvements, accepting our own faults. Each meeting a scribe would be appointed to note down our discussions. Basically we would pick the person who didn't read the chapters decided upon :-) The scribe would then post our discussions on a newsgroup for company junta to discuss/view. I was the scribe for one such meeting.

I personally feel that managers are of two types. Those who manage people to do the work assigned to them, where there is a transfer of responsibility. And those who consider people as resources to complete the work assigned to them, where there is no transfer of responsibility but more like a transfer of orders to follow strictly. Something like 'The beginning and end of imagination, all at the same time". After I had posted our discussions, and my thoughts about managers, the CEO asked me to explain my one line comment on managers as it was not intuitively clear. I went on to explain it to him with a little bit of evangelistic zeal :-) This was a few weeks back.

I was to leave for Delhi for a friend's wedding. A decision that I was not sure of till the previous night due to my current workload. I decided to leave the office for the airport by 3pm, so I was quickly getting jobs done. Do some feasibility analysis and send a mail out. Then analyse some scope captures to find out why the device that usually sings like Norah Jones or cries like Carlos' guitar, was sometimes singing like me??? I knew what I had to do but it would take time. "Quick!!!". I decided to outsource some of the menial, straight forward work to one of the testers. I was happy with the thought that I would get all the work done in such a short span of time. I bragged about the outsourcing part to Sudhakar, the h/w manager who was giving me ideas on how to isolate the problem. We have worked on some gory problems before and more than knowing each others strengths we have come to know each others weaknesses. He looked at me with one eyebrow up which basically means "HELLO... Anybody up there". He told me that testers should not be treated like personal secretaries. I smiled when I understood my mistake. It was "The beginning and end of imagination, all at the same time". I quickly went to the tester and took my work back making some lame excuse. As I passed Sudhakar's place on the was out I put one eyebrow up and said "Thanks" as I rushed to catch my flight.

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