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Re^2: Certifications are dumb.

by dragonchild (Archbishop)
on Apr 08, 2008 at 20:55 UTC ( #679072=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: Certifications are dumb.
in thread Certifications are dumb.

While the "lone ranger" archetype is very emotionally appealing, it must be remembered that a company is an engine that produces money. Nothing more, nothing less. As such, all decisions have to be made in terms of what will have the greatest ROI (Return On Investment). So, let's examine what is, in my experience, the most common "lone ranger" ROI.

There are 3 people on the team. Each person brings a ROI of $50k (meaning that the company gets $50k of value above what the company pays). The network effects each brings an additional $100k per connection. So, that's a total of $150k + $300k for $450k. Let's add the fourth person.

  • If that person is a team player, then we get $50k for him plus $400k from the network effects.
  • If that person is a lone ranger, then we get $250k for him plus $0k from the network effects.

That lone ranger just cost me $200k, even though he is personally 5x better. No, thank you.

As for malpractice ... I have a different take on that. Personally, I think that the risk of dying due to malpractice in the US is about on par with the risk of dying in an airplane. Now, I have no proof for this, but consider the following points:

  1. Most people who die in a doctor's care either would die within a year or should have died already.
  2. That 100k is out of how many people who see a doctor each year?
  3. How likely are those people to have kept themselves healthy prior to seeing a doctor?
  4. What is the incidence of malpractice death in other countries, specifically Scandinavia, Japan, and China? </oll>

    Puts that number into perspective, doesn't it?

    My criteria for good software:
    1. Does it work?
    2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?

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Re^3: Certifications are dumb (OT: death stats)
by kyle (Abbot) on Apr 08, 2008 at 21:32 UTC

    I think that the risk of dying due to malpractice in the US is about on par with the risk of dying in an airplane. Now, I have no proof for this, but...

    A couple links:

    From the first, I infer that there are about 100 deaths per year in airplane accidents (I get this from a 50,000 number of deaths in auto accidents and a statement that there are 500 times more of those than airplane deaths).

    The second says medical errors kill 195,000 per year in the US.

    These are certainly not indisputable sources, but they'd have to be pretty far off for the inequality to go the other way.

Re^3: Certifications are dumb.
by Your Mother (Chancellor) on Apr 08, 2008 at 21:36 UTC

    I know what you mean but there is a huge amount of HR-marketing-sprak stuck in all that stuff. I have learned to shut my mouth in certain circumstances because team players don't say, "that's a mistake, it's gonna cost us down the road." Not every job but in a few it has been less risky for me to let everyone make mistakes than it is to fight to do a good job. I'm not a lone ranger. I love supporting others and stuff like pair-coding. Love it. But that is not what people mean when they say "team player." They mean committee -- don't ask embarrassing questions, don't make waves, don't be different, don't stick your head out or it's for the chop. This is a huge productivity, talent, and enthusiasm killer. I always think of the scene in the "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen" remake where they execute Sting.

    Most people who die in a doctor's care either would die within a year or should have died already.

    You are insufficiently jaded. :) E.g., 80 people die every day in the US from bad prescriptions. I'm from a family of medical people. I could tell you toe-curling tales of incompetence like patients waking up in the middle of thoracic surgery because the anesthesiologist was too busy chatting up a cute nurse to do his job right. A *large* majority (was large 20 years ago anyway, one can hope it's not close to 90% anymore) of doctors fall into at least one of these: alcoholic, smoker, overweight; persons who are trained in taking care of people. Lots of surgeons are drunk or high at work. Lots of cops are bullies and racists. Et cetera and so forth. I wanted to pull a punch line out of that but it's not even darkly comedic right now. :( Part of what "team player" means to me is "look the other way for the team." Maybe I'm overly jaded but I find the term hopelessly corrupt.

      I don't doubt that many doctors aren't fit for duty and, just like the Blue Wall, they have their own code of silence. Just like IT folk, too. I could tell you toe-curling tales of IT incompetence with mission-critical systems, such as banks. If you don't think a bank's trades processing system has real-world consequences, then I don't know what to say.

      As for teams and teamwork ... it sounds like you're too jaded. Yes, a team can be used to squelch initiative. It can also be used to build said initiative. And, many times, the person with the initiative would have screwed the pooch and it was only due to the team keeping a lid on the loose cannon that the mission-critical system was saved. I know - I've been that loose cannon.

      The key is to encourage creativity and initiative while still maintaining alignment across all team members so that everyone is going in the same direction. Remember - you are paid for a reason. If you don't like it, make your own company.

      My criteria for good software:
      1. Does it work?
      2. Can someone else come in, make a change, and be reasonably certain no bugs were introduced?

        I have two work related stories which display the best and worst. One was a financial mishap where it was discovered that credit card numbers were not being hashed before they went to the data mart (where each of 2,500-ish employees in the company had read access). The minute this was discovered, it was fixed and someone walked down to the archive room, pulled the tapes and took them out back and burned them.

        The other was me trying to talk my team out of doing something, repeatedly. I was the only dissenter and it turned into an opinion poll -- which is what *any* team, group, or committee turns into without good leadership -- instead of a discussion of right and wrong. It cost them a multi-million dollar lawsuit because I'd been right and any individual could have seen it but a group managed to feel bold against a reasonable critique. That team bestowed upon me the lowest -- the only "average" rating I got -- employee review rating of my tenure at that company. A team whose revenue *doubled* the year that I was the only change in staff. Of course, I gave two weeks notice even though it cost me *plenty* money in lost stock options. The point being, and I'm still a little stung by it, I guess, I should not have had to and would not if it had been an atmosphere which valued good work somewhere higher on the the totem than team work. That's not an unimportant distinction. There is a large swath of human psychology which prefers people get along, even at the cost of starving, to having any conflict, no matter what success comes with it. I know you understand this.

        There is a punch line to the stories. Both happened at the same company. The first when it was still in startup mode. The second, years later, when it was in market-leader, team-building, global-reach mode. Top 10 website when I was there.

        I'd argue that you're not even talking about teams. You're talking about talent, leadership, and company environment/culture. To use another mechanical metaphor. Are tires team players on a team with the engine? Sure they need each other but they have no direct knowledge of each other. They have no direct interaction. One can be replaced without the other ever even knowing anything about it. Team building in the business world has more to do with hoops and buzzwords than anything business related. Any examples to the contrary would be shiny exceptions in a sea of muck.

        Side note: I don't think for a moment that what you plan to do with your venture would be anything like the crap I describe. That term just sticks in my craw. I like "collaborator" but that one has its own set of baggage.

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