The Duplicates Deal

When I told you that Debra found duplicates — you wanted to debate the issue first. 30 minutes later: “Oh, I joined to this table and that’s causing it.” In other words—you were wrong and wasted time in defending that you were right.

I’ve seen this over and over again. When I came to you about some duplicates [in your data] during that tax-revenue week, you immediately said, “That’s not how you get duplicates.” I just came to you with a serious problem (that was a nightmare for me to fix) — and “that’s not how you get duplicates” is what first comes to mind?

Once again, you defend before you consider.

In Mike’s go-to tactics, he seized on the first charge and breezed right by the second.

The latter is undeniable while the former has shades of gray that can be manipulated to his liking. When a problem is brought to my attention, I don’t launch into chatter that assumes I’m right and they’re wrong.

“Okay, thanks — I’ll take a look at it” is more my style.

Mike has a habit of rattling on as he goes off to fix problems — and I’m put in the position of having to listen to it. I just dropped by to relay the information — my part is over and I’ve got things to do. But it’s an awkward situation, because you’re trying to be courteous and not just run off as he’s rambling on.

And I was stuck even more when he called me about it.

The dynamics of human interaction seem to entirely escape this man.

But it’s not the time or the call that’s at issue — it’s the attitude of “defend before consider.” It’s of note that I was being conservative about that 30 minutes though. I thought it was closer to 45, but I wasn’t certain of it. Rather than round up, I did the opposite of what he would do.

So what if it was 45 or even an hour — I don’t really care about that. And there are times when talking it over like this is incredibly helpful (even if only as a sounding board).

But that — is not what this is

This is about patterns of behavior that are not conducive to sound consideration — causing totally unnecessary waste and frustration.

Mike was not remotely interested in understanding that or anything else on death knell. And off he goes to explain how I don’t understand that he’s working on the problem while we’re talking.

You can’t see my computer — you don’t know what I’m doing.

I don’t understand the style of our interaction throughout the entire time I worked there?

By the way, that was on Regis’ project — where I witnessed negligence unlike anything I had ever seen in 23 years in IT. Almost 3 months into the project, he was still dickin’ around defining things on the fly that should have been understood early on. But Mike was always off in his own world — putting reports out in the ether and expecting people to go exploring in search of his wisdom.

It doesn’t work that way — especially with those who have a clear vision of what they want. His reports on that project were painfully slow — but instead of putting a temporary fix in place, he was always broadcasting how he was going to rearchitect the database to solve the problem.

Customers don’t give a damn about facts and dimensions, nor should they.

We’re sitting there wasting time in meetings while watching this thing spin — listening to Mike remind us about how’s he’s gonna fix it (while week after week goes by as he doesn’t).

Once again — it was embarrassing.

It would take me a matter of minutes to solve that performance problem — and same goes for him. But he wanted to do it his way — forcing our customers to wait while he “perfected” his design.

Not even in the earliest amateur hours of my career would I have insisted on something so senseless.

It was always about his way

In his split-hairs personality disorder, he would seize on that statement to cite the most laughably lightweight evidence to claim that the exact opposite is true — brazenly ignoring the totality of his history.

Debra was having to manually add up numbers because Mike wouldn’t take 10 seconds to add subtotals to Tableau (after being repeatedly asked to do so). Walking on eggshells as usual — one day I politely nudged him with the most delicate touch imaginable (the cloudlike fluff of “constructive” communication he lives for), asking, “Does your workbook have weeks now?”

I knew it didn’t . . .

So Mike replies,

If that’s what they want

“If that’s what they want”?

Um, yeah — like on the crystal-clear requirements they provided over two months ago — and all the reminders, meetings, and needless niceties that followed.

After that, I went with another approach — thinking that Debra might have a way to reach him. Since she was doing data validation, we thought that a blueprint for Mike to follow might do the trick (spelling it out step by step).

That we had come to a point where she had to stay up till 10 or 11 at night writing out instructions for things that Mike should have done a long time ago — was preposterous.

Amazingly, it worked — but why was it like pulling teeth in the first place?

From one meeting to the next on that project — if he wasn’t complaining about source-data issues being so inconvenient to his code, he was making excuses for something else. One of my favorites is the debate with Regis and Debra over a report definition — where he proudly proclaimed:

I’m following the industry standard

I was in no position to know whether he was right or not, but I do know that we have a responsibility to make sure that we’re on the same page as the business. That way they can make their case for their approach and Mike can make his. And then we just figure out what’s best from there.

But we can’t do that if you’re off doing your own thing and making such assumptions.

He was off doing his own thing — a lot

Barebones and unverified reports — leaving people hanging without providing the most obvious and easily-implemented features that they would want to make the reports useful. Mike is the hardest working person I’ve ever seen in our field, so it’s not for lack of caring that he operates this way.

He was buried in the weeds of development and rarely looked up.

Which is why developers doubling as managers rarely works. Very few people have what it takes to pull that off. One or the other roles suffers and it’s almost invariably both. That problem is compounded many times over when you refuse to recognize your shortcomings.

Mike’s bulldozing mentality feeds right into his seemingly limitless acceptance of his own errors and delays — justifying them through the level of importance he places on himself for the sheer volume of work he does.

It would be like me thinking that it’s okay that Lachmi was repeatedly put off — after all, I was “in demand” and busy on so many other things.

Negative, Ghost Rider

Doesn’t it strike you as curious that he didn’t ask a single question on that call?

After all, he had just been informed that our customers had complaints — and no one was more in the know on that than I was. If you wanted to know where you went wrong, wouldn’t you ask the person who’s been trying to tell you all along?

Mike did not refute a single charge with anything remotely in the realm of substance. He derailed the discussion from the first minute — dodging anything that required him to recognize reality.

It’s indefensible! Don’t you know that?

The Project Manager Matter