Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The politics of solution design

In the book "Watching the English," Kate Fox describes the English behavior. They are apologetic and non-confrontational. Without spelling it out explicitly, she paints a picture of a group of people who is indirect in their speech. So when the Englishman opened his mouth to clarify an open point, I couldn't help notice the directness in it. The direct approach also translated into unintentional humor. Who can say no to humor? This quality is absent from life these days.

I happened to be in a room where a group of professionals was discussing the flaws in solution design. I was completely out of my depth. By the time I realized the original agenda had been hijacked with a technical discussion, I was too deep in the rabbit hole to retreat. They had multiple servers drawn on the drawing board. There were lines to demarcate the network into the core, DMZ for demilitarized zone and the external world. I used to frown upon the word DMZ as it was yet another instance of glorifying mundane work. With the events that unfurled over the weekend and the world reeling from the recent cyber attacks, I have come to the conclusion that our world has changed drastically. White collar workplace is equivalent to a war zone. I am awake from slumber. 

The servers were spread all over the place and were not communicating successfully to each other. The objective was to troubleshoot. During the discussion, the design had changed twice. When the manager evaluated the second change, he was confused.

Manager: *authoritatively* I understand the initial design and also the first change.

Englishman: *nods*

Manager: *with a gradual fall in confidence* The second change is confusing. It almost looks like the initial design.

Englishman: *looks sympathetically*

Manager: *confused* So is it redesign or rearchitecting? How do I call it?

Englishman: *with a straight face* Politics.

That was a direct answer. Some of the decisions are made for the political reasons. There are no technological reasons.


Photo Courtesy: Paul White

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