Beginning of the End

It seems like only yesterday
I didn’t have a clue
I stood alone not knowing where to turn
Now suddenly I look around
And everything looks new . . .

They call it understanding
A willingness to grow
I’m finally understanding
There’s so much I could know

Until the day you came along
I used to just get lost
I only heard the things I wanted to hear
It always seemed like no cared
Then you took the time
And now I look and everything seems clear . . .

That Atlassian logo — my God, PURE GOLD!

I went looking for a logo to tie into JIRA (since the sweatshirt might be confusing without it). I already had the woodworking pictures laid out — so to see that pencil and ruler like the graphic was custom made for me, I just about died.

I don’t deny that I’m enjoying driving these guys into the ground for their gutlessness and ineptitude — along with their utter lack of concern for the damage they do (to my life and Elara’s). But it’s also a creative outlet that’s quite therapeutic — another project leveraging a long line of endeavors.

As much fun as I’m having, I gotta knock this out so I can get back to my much higher priority below — which got put off for a few months in service of Elara. Nobody forced me to do that and I stand by my decision (even knowing that it cost me dearly on my goals and eventually my job).

I only bring it up because you’d like to think that such dedication would warrant a modicum of consideration for how it factors into the story.

But THAT . . . would require Head Honcho — to do THIS

Head Honcho doesn’t like to be burdened by such questions.

Rollo’s erratic style and occasionally senseless decisions, cost me in ways that it didn’t cost anyone else. I’m not suggesting that my burden was worse than the impact on the business — I’m simply saying that it was unique to my role on the team.

Case in point

At a key stage in End Run’s project, out of nowhere I was asked for revenue data for tax purposes. I made a mistake right off the bat by not telling End Run that my priorities had shifted. Anybody in this business knows how this happens — you get pulled off on something else without realizing the scope of it, and next thing ya know — it consumes your entire week.

In any case, I had a responsibility to keep him informed and I didn’t.

A few days into this side project, I got into some data that I was unfamiliar with — but it was under Rollo’s purview and he was intimately familiar with it. So when I found some serious issues with duplication (that had to be fixed in order to properly provide this information) — Rollo did what Rollo does:

Defend before consider

That’s not how you get duplicates

To instantly reply with a knee-jerk claim that was wildly in the wrong — was just another day at the office.

That’s an exaggeration — but the spirit of it is not, as his dead-certain mindset is what I had come to expect.

So when I told him that Unknown Legend#1 brought some duplicates to my attention regarding his reporting, he opted for the Rollo Routine instead of simply saying,

“OK, thanks — I’ll check it out”

He almost invariably starts from the position that someone else is wrong and off he goes to prove it.

I start from the position that someone brought a problem to my attention — and I have a responsibility to objectively investigate it.

When we had it out on the phone, I brought this up and he immediately gave me the . . .

“What You don’t understand” treatment

It just doesn’t register with Rollo that it’s his attitude and ego at issue.

By the way, I was up till 3:00 AM fixing that nightmare that Rollo left in place on those “that’s not how you get duplicates” duplicates. Not once did he show an atom of interest in how I did it — which means that unless he went back and put a permanent fix in place (since mine was just temporary), he just left it like it was.

You know how I would have felt had I made such a blunder? HORRIFIED!

Rollo . . .

I must remind you that we’re talking about the hardest working person in this company (when it comes to hours, anyway).

But somewhere along the way, Rollo lost sight of quality vs quantity.

What I did with working endless hours all summer was not smart — I just kept thinking I could catch up, but I never could — not when new requests kept coming in.

And fixing Rollo’s sloppy work till 3:00 AM didn’t help matters.

Oh, you want me to be delicate so you won’t be offended by exactly what I think of the sloppiest SQL I’ve ever seen. You had your chance to be inspired when I led by example in the first week on the job. As politely as humanly possible, I took some of Rollo’s work and rewrote it in my own style (which had evolved over many years of combining my ideas with the best of what I learned from others).

I thought I had come to a place where such craftmanship would be taken seriously instead of being blown off with “It’s beautiful, but . . . “

And off he went on his spiel about how he doesn’t have time — and prefers to focus on function over form.

Oh, I see — I had never heard that before about time being so important. In my over 23 years in IT, we just played ping-pong half the day and sat around admiring the elegance of our code the other half.

And yeah, I felt the function that night with your duplicates — and many more slip-ups I fixed that would unlikely be made by someone who was careful in their craft.

Right then and there, Rollo — I sized you up in 60 seconds

Contrast his way with a key moment starting out in my career. I’ll never forget pausing to consider what a colleague just told me about his coding convention.

So his way is more organized, easier to follow, and cleaner to work with. What are my reasons for why my way is better?

I don’t have any good ones?

Coding with Clarity is a short story on my professional profile site that not only captures the essence of why style matters — but also the difference in attitude between that colleague and Rollo.

A few days before I was fired, we started daily stand-up meetings per the recommendation of the recently hired Project Manager. I was wholeheartedly in favor of this change, because for a while I had been dreading our twice-a-week marathon meetings.

One day I almost wrote to the team to request a change in format. I decided not to because it’s what they seemed to want. I was utilizing the bulk of the time to work anyway (I couldn’t afford not to). So I took one for the team.

I knew the project manager’s switch to 15-minute stand-ups would be met with some understandable skepticism (especially given the number of people involved). But I loved the demands of the challenge — so I set the stopwatch on my phone.

So before I even took my first turn, I was already thinking of how to make measurable improvements.

Being swamped over the summer exposed my weaknesses in time management and task tracking — and here’s where I was in the wrong on something I should have been doing all along. Rollo went with Planner last year — which is a tool that Microsoft should be embarrassed by.

If I find that something is seriously lacking in the essence of what it should be, I have a problem using it.

It’s not that I didn’t try — in fact, I came up with a way to make it work better for me. But I just didn’t get into the habit of it enough, and when I got slammed — I knew I needed something more systematic.

Rollo wasn’t holding us to maintaining our tasks — because he never held us to anything. We should have been doing what we were asked, but if you set a slack atmosphere — things becomes optional and accountability goes out the window.

That doesn’t justify me not doing it — but there’s a human nature aspect to all of this, and that’s at the bedrock of what being a leader is. If I were in his position, from day one my team would understand that they will be held accountable to those tasks — with real dates and all. But I would also ask for suggestions on what the team thinks we should use for a tool. .

Here’s our budget — what are the pros and cons of what you have in mind?

That way — you can’t lose. You give everybody a shot to make their case if they choose to. Then the leader makes the final decision by factoring for everything on the table. The benefits of that manner of leadership go way beyond the choice in the tool. You’re sending a message to the team that you have a systematic mind. That you are someone who’s going to carefully weigh information.

That earns respect. Rollo’s way — does not

He just wants respect. Me — I wouldn’t want it unless I earned it. He had quite a few chances to do that with me, but he blew it time after time.

And none bigger than what happened with JIRA in July.

So I set out to solve my task-tracking problem by designing a system in JIRA that would serve my way of working, but with the self-imposed condition that I would maintain my tasks in Planner as well.

I didn’t mind the few minutes of extra work —because my system would be so smooth that copying over a few tidbits to Planner was well worth it.

So my plan was to create an account with JIRA, work with the tool for a month or so —and then go to the team with a presentation of my findings. I couldn’t lose — because I was primarily trying to solve my problem — with the hope that others would become interested in my solution. If not, fine — they continue in Planner and I follow suit (except that I’d have the completely customizable system that I wanted as well).

A key component of my vision was the reporting — so with a click of a button before a team meeting, I would have a structured report for my updates.

That element would eventually bring about my doom

Sticking to the plan, I kept quiet for a few weeks — and in that time I learned a great deal (and had a lot of back and forth with JIRA support). Essential to what I had in mind was to document the essentials in JIRA — and more in-depth information would go into OneNote. But I wanted a URL field to open right into Office OneNote — and it can’t be done.

Not directly, anyway

tinyurl.com to the rescue!

Happy Days Are Here Again . . .

At least until Rollo had his way

For all my efforts with JIRA, the support-tech stunned me with a $20 coupon for their store — just for my perseverance and passion.

That sweatshirt was $40, so I got a helluva deal at half off. It was the perfect color for the style and everything about it just capped off a difficult experience that led to great things on the horizon. With that key component in place, I was ready to rock — and from that moment on, it was just about shaping the tool to meet my needs along the way.

And of course, all the while with my plan in mind to present it to the team.

And then one day Rollo mentioned some new documentation he put into OneNote. This is one area where he was exceptional — as his stuff ranks with the best I’ve ever seen. Moreover, to my knowledge — he’s the only one on the team who really followed through on my suggestions about using OneNote in this way.

Gotta give credit where credit is due — and he delivered on that.

I was excited about what he had to show me — and in that moment, I let my guard down. I wasn’t really ready to share my JIRA plans yet, but at the same time — I just felt like maybe it was a bonding opportunity and that I should feel free to openly share my ideas with my manager.

Like I said – I let my guard down

In the blink of an eye, he took over that conversation on JIRA — driving it in the direction of his interests (claiming that he’d been giving this some thought). So lemme get this straight — ya went with Planner because it was “quick and easy” (never mind the efficacy of it) — and now you’ve got grand plans?

This man has one mode and one mode only: To race through everything (except in meetings where time is infinite as long as he’s talking).

And off he goes to enlighten me with [fill in your fancy jargon].

Rollo was in search of a solution without even understanding the problem.

“I know the guys don’t like Planner” said Rollo while skipping along to his own Zip-a-dee-doo-dah day — where “everything is satisfactch’ll” in his imaginary “actch’ll.”

The truth is that the guys didn’t care that much one way or the other — and would do what he told ’em to do (as would I — except that it would all the more push me to find a better way). So at the snap of his fingers, Rollo could have made Planner a valuable tool (just not as valuable as I’m after).

Three words for why that didn’t happen (at least not till recently — which is where End Run is about to come in):

Absence of Accountability

The team was slack on maintaining tasks because that’s the open-ended atmosphere of freedom he set. Pretty out of sync for someone supposedly so concerned about time, don’t ya think?

That’s because it’s not real — it’s a catch-all claim to serve whatever narrative works in the moment.

I want to be held accountable. I want to be keenly aware of my responsibilities and be reminded of where I’m falling short. So while I was slack on Planner, my reasons were out of deep dislike for the tool.

Doesn’t excuse anything — just means I had different reasons.

I had something far more sophisticated in mind — and I was going to great lengths to see it realized. All of this is connected to my background that you see in those pictures.

Ergonomics planted the seeds of the ideas below — same goes for how I wanted OneNote to work with JIRA: Take the best aspects of one tool and bond it with the best of another — building a solution for fluidity.

You’ve gotta be out of your mind on a mission to pull off what I did below in the time that I did it.

Almost everyone thought I was crazy for even thinking it was possible — and central to that belief was that they they weren’t thinking about how you would go about it.

This wasn’t a woodworking project — it was more like manufacturing.

You can’t build something like that with brute force. So given the depth of my experience in precision and pulling off the seemingly impossible, I just might have something to offer that you haven’t thought of.

So Rollo — perhaps, for once in your life —

You Don’t Understand

Take the best aspects of one tool and bond it with the best of another — building a solution for fluidity.

Sounds like a damn fine way to build a team, company, and even a country.

But that’s me . . .

Just Roll It Around Is All I Ask!”

Duvall’s nod of acknowledgement embodies an honor code in one’s willingness to listen. I love the idea of the journey you can take in that “roll” — that pausing even for a split-second can be life-altering.

Rollo’s too busy to roll it around.

But never too busy to show that he knows the way with absolute certainty (never mind that he’s making it up as goes).

Although, if he were as cool as Indiana Jones — I might let it slide

But in Indiana’s way, there was a construct of thought in his broader purpose — inspiring confidence and trust in his brand of “making it up as I go.”

Rollo earned no such faith . . .

It’s bad enough that his actions were devoid of professional courtesy, but when I asked if DevOps had a custom URL field available, he was racing off to prove that it did. It was pathetic to watch him fumble about in desperation — only to end up with a “URL” field that was text, and then have the bottomless nerve to falsely equate these programs by saying,

They all do the same thing

You people had me confused with somebody else. Not even in my choice of vanilla ice cream would I be so generic.

After I put some serious time and effort into designing my system and solving that URL problem — this [$#%^^>)* _ #!*&%-@+$] comes sailing in on his submarine-sized ego, runs Scot-Free aground, and still manages to sit there soaking up the sun in all his glory.

I was appalled by both the consistency of his conceit and the hollowness of his conclusions. Considering his sky-high intellect, advanced skills, and breadth of experience — to be so easily satisfied with such shoddiness, takes a stupefying feat of psychological gymnastics.

That aside — when it comes to web development, I wish I knew one tenth of what this man knows. I maintain my immense respect for his knowledge and abilities where warranted. And despite being railroaded by a Rollo once again, I’m still gonna miss those conversations and all the knowledge he would have shared. Unlike most of America, I can be deeply disgusted by someone and still be keenly aware of their virtues — and appreciate that goodness that I valued for all the right reasons, and always will.

So get this through your head, Head Honcho

This is not some run-of-the-mill mistake

I’ve seen plenty of people make stupid mistakes, and the only time I call them that is when they’re mine.

This is something else entirely — as Rollo was hell-bent on being right (as usual). But he doesn’t have the guts to just suck it up and say, “Well, maybe they’re not the same after all” . . .

Or anything to suggest that maybe we should think this through some more.

Rollo doesn’t roll that way

And when called on it in our heated discussion that was the death knell of my dismissal, he said,

I was trying to show you what was available

Jesus, it just never ends with this guy.

Yeah, I was trying to show you what I had in mind that was the result of serious-minded effort and thought — before you robbed of me that opportunity in order to serve yourself — under the guise of whatever you wanna call it that absolves you of what it really is.

When I wrote to request Tableau help back in July, I also mentioned that I did not appreciate his handling of the JIRA/DevOps deal.

And right on Cue, Rollo

To his credit, he let me proceed with JIRA on my own and said that the team would be going with DevOps — and I greatly appreciated at least having that flexibility. But doesn’t it strike you as curious that he wasn’t even going to ask the team about it? Everything else seems to be up for consideration in team meetings — so why not this?

While the team will recognize this behavior to a degree, none of them dealt with Rollo in Elara’s underworld like I did. Ironically, through circumstances unrelated to me — Elara ended up going with JIRA company-wide anyway. I was amused.

Rollo had his moments — even of greatness

No amount of my elegant code could solve a key problem I was having on dealing with with some date-range requirements that I had never experienced before. I asked for his help and I was amazed by what he did. It was such a “simple” thing in the way of logic (so we’re not talking complex code here).

On pure logic, compared to Rollo — I have no chance.

On this story — he doesn’t

End Run