The need for overseers LO7608

John Paul Fullerton (
Sat, 25 May 1996 15:29:37 +0000


I imagine that the subject line for this note will be unpleasant to
most people :)

Recently, someone wrote to the list and talked about seeing a movie,
I think the movie was based in Scotland around the year 1200. People
were considered assets. When an army took a town, the people were
part of the prize. The author mentioned that things have been this
way since the time of King David. And I thought in response, yes,
that's possible. That's one way they got servants. (I'm not claiming
to understand the customs of the Bible.)

Soon after that, I ran my Visual Basic program that reads a verse at
random from the Gutenberg Project King James Bible. The program says
(actually says) something like "Good evening, have a nice day. Today
is May 22nd, 1996. The time is 11:42p m." Then it gives a chapter
and verse reference and says a verse. That night it said Chronicles
11:7 "And David dwelt in the castle; therefore they called it the
city of David." The next verse is "And he built the city round
about, even from Milo round about: and Joab repaired the rest of the

It was like finding a "fortune cookie" in the best sense of the word
:) Oh, here's something to think about!

The thought came to mind, a city is for people, the castle already
was there, things were already in place, why did DAVID build the
city? Probably because the people weren't involved in building it
any more when he arrived. Leaving the exact consideration of this
example, it seems like my own work processes also need a supervisor.
I'm on 14 days vacation, with big plans for learning, book lists,
and programming projects, and I'm giving myself an ache seeing movies
and playing computer games. What if I were never supervised? What
would I ever accomplish?

Now, if this is true, it relates to John Wood's recent note about
Self-Evident truths and to some other peoples' recent notes to the
list. John said that people must think that their words "say" what
they're doing. Maybe there's also the part about "how could they
know"? He mentioned the parent who says "I love my child" and yet
abuses them. How could parents know how much discipline was needed?
How could they know when they were acting out of anger or frustration
or knowing that something had to be brought to the child's attention?
I'm not saying that there is NO knowledge of this because even such
low-level reactions as shame and guilt, and other knowledge such as
having once been "like the child" arrive in consciousness for review.

How could I know what book to read or that reading the book would
have the glorious consequence that I hoped? How could I know that I
wouldn't be disappointed in reaching out purposely in a certain

How would people know what projects or efforts to work toward unless
someone tells them? Someone else tells the employer too, until the
cycle catches everyone. Eventually government employees are part of
the group of shareholders telling their boss's boss what to do.

In "Microsoft Secrets", Michael Cusumano and Richard Selby talk
about changes in the software development process at Microsoft.
While trying to keep the "developer's freedom" in sight (of the
developer), different inputs into the process have been added
through time. Program testers and Program managers are outside of
the Development group and yet work together with Development and
have a say about the product. And development "leads" say "you can
do whatever you want, just so long as you check in the code by
5:00". That's not an exact quote :)

There are also comments about the difference needed between writing
code and designing the product, though Microsoft seems to acknowledge
the fact that their developers have a unique view of what's possible
in their projects, so what they have to say is important.

It may be possible that even the ones who say, OK, this is what
You're going to do, may not know (How could THEY know?), so we get
complicated systems that purportedly respond to mandates and do so
without the vantage point of the worker's observation. One of Bill
Gates and Microsoft's driving points of evaluation is "will this
action ship product and can we sell the product to maximize profit".
So they finally have the customer's pocketbook as boss and
everything else is secondary (while thinking like that). I realize
that this may be seen as unacceptable.

I could possibly be wrong, yet wanted to bring up the thought of
needing supervisors in order for work to go forward.

Have a nice day
John Paul Fullerton


"John Paul Fullerton" <>

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