On Looking and Acting the Part

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    Comments posted to this topic are about the item On Looking and Acting the Part

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • DeafEater

    Mr or Mrs. 500

    Points: 523

    I do love your pieces 'Phil'.  Always well written and gently humorous.  Being of a similar tinge of grey, the characterisations in your editorial are instantly recognisable.  I also hadn't realised that being able to maintain a solemn face in the company of people with a less than fulsome grasp of the facts might equip me for a career in human despatches so I thank you for the heads-up.

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    Thanks for the kind words, DeafEater. Much appreciated.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • GPO

    SSCarpal Tunnel

    Points: 4556

    Arrgh! Consultants! Get thee behind me! 🙂 Unfortunately the ratio of good outcomes to poor outcomes from bringing in the consultants, in my lengthy experience has been about 1:3. The problem is not necessarily the consultants themselves. It's the propensity for management (i.e. non-database types) to book the wrong ones. Some consultants are truly enviable and slick sales people. They really do look and act the part in the run up to the generation of the purchase order. Charming, urbane, and convincingly equipped with all the right buzzwords ("targetted lake analytics" anybody?) and carefully crafted slides.

    It's only when the PowerPoints have faded, the dust has cleared, and the feckless saps - permanent employees we sometimes call them - pick up the code debt, that the true extent of the damage becomes apparent.

    It's an awkward situation. No senior manager enjoys the realisation they've been conned again, and so an understandable degree of denial sets in. Who are they going to believe? The awfully nice chaps who gave us so much hope, and paid for a really tremendous lunch, and who... really looked the part... Or the morose permanent employee. Two fifths "I told you so" and three fifths "now I have fix this".

    On the plus side, cleaning up the mess of others really has made me a better coder. The more fly-by-nighters we get in, the broader the pantheon of oddball, unfinished solutions to which I am exposed. It's a kind of inoculation I suppose.

    ...One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that ones work is terribly important.... Bertrand Russell

  • David.Poole

    SSC Guru

    Points: 75363

    This comes close to Two Stops Short of Barking.  Looking the part = like someone who has made slightly more successful and profitable decisions than the client.

    I have reached the conclusion that consultants aren't really there to offer solutions that are better than what could be done in house.  They are there as blame hounds to provide plausible deniability for the guilty.

     

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    @david.Poole  One of my favourite articles, that one. Written with feeling. You're right about deflecting the blame from the guilty.  The blame game just takes too long, though it is immensely satisfying for the innocent. The successful consultant tries to remove the blame phase entirely so as to get the team back to the work of solving the problem. Then, ideally everyone but the consultant should get the credit.  It is important for it all to be done deadpan.

     

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    @GPO

    Consultancy is a job for which there is almost no training or body of expertise for the newcomer to use. Few people make a go of it successfully. The ideal feedback for the successful consultant is "we had these consultants in, Can't remember much about them, We suddenly realized we didn't need them and  we could solve the problem ourselves." I too have witnessed some diabolically bad consulting.

    I worry about the lack of the essential skills and training for a consultant. I didn't have any  Fortunately, I once trained as a psychoanalytic clinical psychologist, and  the study of group dynamics was the most important skill that transferred over. In fact most skills seemed transferable, and applicable. The straight face and sense of detachment were useful.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • DustyBin

    Grasshopper

    Points: 20

    This reminds me of a comment I made to colleagues when I worked in a hospital, writing databases for use by various hospital staff. I noticed that our recommendations were rarely trusted, but the same recommendation from a technical consultant was accepted without question. I believed it was just because we didn't wear expensive-looking suits and command high salaries. We were just "the lads from development" and I guess the staff expected highly technical people to look and act differently somehow.

  • Gordon Feeney

    Old Hand

    Points: 392

    Phil, I couldn't disagree with you more on older consultants looking out of place. Whenever I have any 'expert' coming to my home to fix something or advise me on something else my heart sinks when they are in their twenties or thirties. Give me Grizzly Adams any day, suit or bearskin hat, and I'm immediately at my ease.

  • GeorgeCopeland

    SSCertifiable

    Points: 6936

    I think that "vengeful Jehovah" is the perfect demeanor for a DBA.

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    @GeorgeCopela

    A DBA in a London Bank I remember used to occasionally carry a lightening bolt made from papier mache and painted fiery gold when the Developers did something that merited reproach.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

  • David.Poole

    SSC Guru

    Points: 75363

    Phil Factor wrote:

    @GeorgeCopela

    A DBA in a London Bank I remember used to occasionally carry a lightening bolt made from papier mache and painted fiery gold when the Developers did something that merited reproach.

    It wasn't Grant was it?  He does a good impression of Zeus

  • mikola.samara

    Newbie

    Points: 1

    Brilliant and pleasure as usual. Thank you for sharing. I turned gray at 27, so I do understand your point.

    Can I ask you for permission  to translate your texts (with all due credits, of course) to Russian ?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Phil Factor

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 20064

    please feel free to translate it into Russian.

    Best wishes,
    Phil Factor
    Simple Talk

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