A friend of mine (who I won’t name), who works for a large Bay Area-based software company (which I also won’t name, but it’s not the same large Bay Area-based software company I work for) told me that he has filed a complaint with his human resources department about his manager, claiming that his manager ordered him to lie to a customer, telling the customer that a desired feature was in the current version of the software when it isn’t.
I think back across my career in the software industry and come up with some lunatic tales, too. If you’ve ever worked in a high-tech company, you know these (and worse) are all true:
- T-Shirts with targets on them, for a product initiative called “FATE”.
- Management directions that change every two weeks, and then change back.
- A project gets cancelled, the staff gets laid off, and then the project gets resurrected when a major customer complains.
- Mergers where the sales force of the smaller company is canned, and then sales on that set of products tank.
- Continuing to use a Microsoft product company wide despite a merger having acquired something which competes in the same space.
- Producing a mass consumer product, but laying off the user interface designer.
- Canning telecommuting employees to avoid having to do payroll for the states they live in, despite the company already having employees and subsidiaries in dozens of states.
- Artwork in a conference room featuring a gutted fish, or by the elevator featuring what looks like scabbed over wounds. Or another with a grid of faceless people, some of them X’ed out. (We had layoffs soon after.)
- Company-wide e-mails which announce a mandatory meeting and then ask employees not to gossip about the meeting in the halls. (So we went to the break room instead.)
- Quantity Assurance, where the quality is determined by the number of bugs posted and fixed, the number of tests run, and apparently the number of employees working seven days a week all summer long with no added pay. (But they got a few t-shirts and lunch
on the weekends.)
The San Jose Mercury News long ago put Scott Adams’ “Dilbert” in the Business section rather than on the comics pages (as some papers did with putting “Doonesbury” on the Op-Ed pages). They know that “Dilbert” isn’t comedy… it’s documentary.
[Weblog title reference: From the catchphrase for THX sound, “The audience is listening.”]
Updated on March 14, 2003
Updated on October 21, 2003
Updated on June 23, 2010
Updated and added some links.