Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Leading Up When the Truth Is Inconvenient

 

Sexiest anti-aircraft vehicles/weapons. - Page 2 - Project Reality ForumsThis is a true story, from the height of the Cold War, about the failure of a system within a critical system and the very human responses to a truth-teller. Why tell the tale now? Because a friend’s work situation, in a major corporation, recalled the memory. So, take this tale as a parable for all times, and consider how the players in context, the conflict, and the conclusion relate to your work, your community, or state and national policy areas.

Context

It was the late 1980s, at the height of the Cold War, in West Germany. This was to be ground zero for World War III, if it should come. The plains and valleys would be carpeted by armies of Soviet tanks, while the sky would be filled with aerial armadas operating under Soviet doctrine as the deep extension of artillery fires. To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

At the lowest altitude, around tree-top level, Su-25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft and Mi-24 Hind helicopters had to be kept off the newly fielded M1 Abrams and Bradley infantry fighting vehicles. Because of the law of gravity, a gun platform firing down from the sky has more range than the same or similar system firing up from the ground. The U.S. Army still had a Vietnam era 20mm Gatling gun system, mounted in the old M113 armored personnel carrier chassis, the Vulcan Air Defense System. The emerging threat required a bigger gun.

The old “gun ADA mafia” had fought to remain relevant in the new era of reliable, shoulder-launched, ground-to-air missiles. They refused to simply license the fully fielded and tested West German twin 35mm light armored gun system, the Gepard. Instead, they launched into an ill-conceived and disastrously executed attempt at a new American air defense gun system on the semi-cheap. The bright idea was to save money and time by using the chassis of mothballed M48 tanks, slapping a big box turret on top with twin 40mm cannons, a search radar, and a targeting radar, all linked with other systems by radio network. Slap a hero’s name on the kludge to sell it to Congress and the public: Sergeant York.

Long story short, the Sergeant York Divisional Air Defense Gun, failed spectacularly. The most notorious episode occurred when the search radar software read a latrine ventilation fan as the signature of helicopter blades spinning just around a tree line. The guns slewed around and pointed at the bathroom and a viewing stand full of spectators. So, the gun mafia was discredited.

Meanwhile, in the real world, we had allegedly massive threats from new aircraft, being combat tested in Afghanistan by Russian pilots. So, we went for a “product improvement program” (PIP), introducing an early digital aiming radar system, to extend the effectiveness and service life of the Vulcans, now the Product Improved Vulcan Air Defense System (PIVADS). This set the table for our story.

Conflict

The new digital system, installed into existing Vulcans, replacing older analog controls, included a self-diagnostic system. As soon as it was fielded to our battalion, crews and maintenance teams started reporting problems. The diagnostic systems were giving bad reads, rendering the systems unreliable, and so “non mission capable.” Understand, “non mission capable” means you cannot do what the president and the Congress, on behalf of the American people, expect of you, having paid for the equipment and training. This is very bad.

Our battalion commander dug in hard, throwing every resource of expertise and manpower in the battalion at fixing the problem locally. When we could not resolve the problem, our commander dutifully reported the facts in the monthly Unit Status Report (USR). This report goes all the way to Congress, whether they care to look closely or not. Making a negative report was very bad form, prompting very hard questions.

Now, we were the ADA battalion for the 1st Armor Division, one of several divisions in West Germany, so we were one of several like battalions. Yet, as ADA commanders gathered regularly to discuss the state of their area of responsibility in NATO, 2nd Battalion, 59th Air Defense Artillery was the only one reporting a problem with the new digital system. Everyone else was putting their names on USRs that said all was well.

So, the weight of the world was coming down on that outlier battalion commander and his unit. Yet, he would not change his reports. Instead, he doubled down on intensive testing and documentation in our motor pools. Our local maintenance experts, sergeants, and maintenance warrant officers, made themselves depot level experts, mastering every detail of the system and documentation.

I think our commander was also getting some protection from the fact that his immediate report card and his job was not in the hands of senior ADA officers, embarrassed by this reported failure of the fix for the bigger failure to field the Sergeant York. Instead, Armor and Infantry generals, who were in a hard-truth telling cultural phase, controlled the immediate job security of their battalion commander. So, the Army sent the top level experts down to dig into this troublesome battalion.

Conclusion

When the Department of the Army level experts were done, they concluded that the problem was real. We had followed maintenance test procedures correctly and the equipment really was malfunctioning. So, they started looking at the other battalions, who suddenly ‘fessed up that they had the same problem. That is right; one battalion commander stood up and told the hard truth, while his peers had preferred to hear and report good news from their subordinates. We went from the dog house to a place of honor in our community.

Our battalion commander had already built a culture of excellence, expecting us to embrace our doctrine and master our craft. When the self-diagnostic failures appeared, he insisted every leader at every level be on the equipment, ensuring we were using the equipment correctly and interpreting the signals by the new books. So we had the facts of both observation and procedure documented conclusively.

Our company commanders and staff had worked through every permutation of unit level testing and maintenance. The battalion commander was prepared to engage with peers and senior leaders inside the air defense artillery community and inside the larger, armor and infantry dominated, U.S. Army in Europe community. Confidence in our own competence, sureness in our documented facts, sustained our position and eventually forced organizational level fact-finding. In short, our battalion commander was prepared to effectively Lead Up.

Finally, consider the place of the other units and commanders, who were found to have either falsely reported or to have failed to look closely enough to even see the terrible truth. As long as the Soviet tank armies did not roll across the border, with a deadly cloud of aircraft and helicopters overhead, saying all was well was the easiest and most advantageous position for everyone at every level. But, if our mission was real, and if we were really earning our pay, we had a duty of truth-knowing and truth-telling, together will a duty to do everything in our power to make our piece of the Army successful.

Does any of this ring a bell in your own experience?

There are 31 comments.

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  1. Flapjack Member

    I was a 16R, Vulcan Crewmember, back in the early 90’s. I’m not sure what the radar on the Vulcan was supposed to do, but it did nothing except jerk the turret from side to side crazily. Common opinion was to use the weapon only at targets that were 0 feet AGL; deploy the Stinger for any air threat.

    • #1
    • February 7, 2019, at 6:34 PM PST
    • 6 likes
  2. RightAngles Member

    consider the place of the other units and commanders, who were found to have either falsely reported or to have failed to look closely

    Oopsie!

    • #2
    • February 7, 2019, at 6:37 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  3. Ed G. Member
    Ed G. Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Yes it rings a bell in my professional life. “This is the way it’s always been done”. “They must know about it, and it must not be a big deal”. “If we report that then the bank might cut off funds”. “Stay with the positives, avoid the negatives”. “If we say that then it’ll just cause trouble with no solution”. “If we say that then we’ll be fired”. 

    This comes from many different motivations. Ignorance. Cowardice. Cynicism borne of experience. Pride. Greed. Amoralism. Immoralism. Some are understandable while others are just inexcusable.

    • #3
    • February 7, 2019, at 7:12 PM PST
    • 10 likes
  4. TGR9898 Coolidge

    Been going through this for over a year now at work. ExecVP believes in the old Jack Welch Management By Intimidation methodology. As a result of a merger, my engineering group was moved under this jerk 3 years ago.

    My boss of 9 years was fired 13 months ago for documenting the deficiencies & failures of the ExecVP’s engineering initiatives. His replacement blatantly lies about progress & performance. Since the Business side of the operation talks to me directly (I’ve been with them longer than the two above me) I openly challenge my new boss & the ExecVP, providing documents refuting their claims directly to the business. As a result I have been put on probation (lost my 5% annual bonus and any hope of a raise) and stripped of any new projects.

    So why don’t I quit? Because two ExecVPs on the business side have blocked the attempts to fire me AND have arranged a semi-anual “retention bonus” – that’s double the raise/bonus combo – to entice me to stick around until my division can be sold off (I would go with the sale while the ExecVP & his minion would not)

    The situation is rather surreal.

    • #4
    • February 7, 2019, at 8:20 PM PST
    • 16 likes
  5. Boss Mongo Member

    NMC. USR. Mr. Brown, you just brought all my PTSD from being a BMO, 1-5 IN, ROK roaring to the fore.

    Clifford A. Brown: Does any of this ring a bell in your own experience?

    Man, like a clarion call.

    • #5
    • February 7, 2019, at 8:27 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  6. Doctor Robert Member

    Clifford A. Brown: Does any of this ring a bell in your own experience?

    Yes. The da Vinci surgical robot. When this came into my specialty in 2010 or so I was the first gyn Doc at my hospital to pay for the training and start doing cases with it. It was supposed to give improved facility and fine motor control, thus making surgery go more quickly and safely, but we had the opposite results. Cases took forever, bleeding was harder to see, patients had bizarre complications from the position required, etc. After 50 cases, several of them near disasters, I stopped using the platform. Other, younger Docs have made it work in my specialty but we had a lot of complications and possibly a death from unrecognized bleeding (not my patient!), much of which was covered up by the administration. It really annoys me that I paid $15,000 or $20,000 in travel and training expenses, not to mention lost time and opportunity costs, for a technique that only harmed my patients.

    This technique had quickly become the standard for performing prostatectomies. A urologist friend of mine refused to go along, fearing that the loss of tactile information as to placing clamps on the lower margin of the gland would lead to more cases of recurrent cancer, he argued that 15 or 20 year data were needed but would never be obtained. His fears have turned out to be true, the allure of the robot is such that one cannot find a single study comparing long term survival after robotic versus open techniques.

    • #6
    • February 7, 2019, at 8:35 PM PST
    • 12 likes
  7. Richard Easton Member

    A person who my Dad thought was a nut was promoted to be technical head of the Lab where he worked. In retirement, Dad received an award named after this person.

    • #7
    • February 7, 2019, at 10:37 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  8. JosePluma Thatcher

    In the 80’s, I was a First Lieutenant in the Individual Ready Reserve; My summer camps usually consisted of shuffling paper for two weeks at Ft. Bliss. I did help edit the SOP for the newest long-range air defense system, which started out mostly replacing the words “Nike Hercules” with the word “Patriot.” I did point out that the part of the SOP requiring a radio operator in the party searching a building for a bomb probably needed some modification.

    Just prior to one of these vacations, the Atlantic Magazine came out with an article detailing the problems with the Sgt. York. I was called to meet with a full bird colonel, who gave a presentation, just to me, refuting the points of the article. So, you have an active duty O-6 using about an hour of his time talking to a reserve O-2. To this day I have no idea why he wasted his time on this. My Father was a journalist, maybe that was it.

    • #8
    • February 7, 2019, at 10:50 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  9. Douglas Pratt Coolidge
    Douglas Pratt Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Does any of this ring a bell in your own experience?

    Yes. The da Vinci surgical robot. When this came into my specialty in 2010 or so I was the first gyn Doc at my hospital to pay for the training and start doing cases with it. It was supposed to give improved facility and fine motor control, thus making surgery go more quickly and safely, but we had the opposite results. Cases took forever, bleeding was harder to see, patients had bizarre complications from the position required, etc. After 50 cases, several of them near disasters, I stopped using the platform. Other, younger Docs have made it work in my specialty but we had a lot of complications and possibly a death from unrecognized bleeding (not my patient!), much of which was covered up by the administration. It really annoys me that I paid $15,000 or $20,000 in travel and training expenses, not to mention lost time and opportunity costs, for a technique that only harmed my patients.

    This technique had quickly become the standard for performing prostatectomies. A urologist friend of mine refused to go along, fearing that the loss of tactile information as to placing clamps on the lower margin of the gland would lead to more cases of recurrent cancer, he argued that 15 or 20 year data were needed but would never be obtained. His fears have turned out to be true, the allure of the robot is such that one cannot find a single study comparing long term survival after robotic versus open techniques.

    Something must have improved. I had a cancerous prostate removed a year and a half ago, with a quick recovery from the surgery and minimal side effects. I think my surgeon did a splendid job with the Da Vinci robot. He is a second generation urologist and has an excellent reputation, which is why I went to him in the first place. He was willing to do it the old fashioned way, especially after I teased him about operating with a PlayStation controller, but we decided to use the robot. I am satisfied with the outcome.

    • #9
    • February 8, 2019, at 3:52 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  10. Richard Easton Member

    From 1969-76 my Dad got a 5% raise (not per year, total). He was a GS-16 and his salary was capped because Congress would not allow government employees to make more than a certain level of political appointee. The salary of these employees was not raised. So Dad would get a paper increase each year. He did accumulate retirement benefits. During that time period he invented GPS. That was a great reward from his employer for stellar performance. /s

    • #10
    • February 8, 2019, at 4:09 AM PST
    • 8 likes
  11. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown: As long as the Soviet tank armies did not roll across the border

    You needn’t have worried. We’d have stopped them.

    • #11
    • February 8, 2019, at 6:07 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  12. Vectorman Thatcher

    While developing software for a microprocessor radio signaling system, my direct boss developed software for the base station, while I work on the mobile units. Due to cost and schedule issues, my single chip microcontroller needed to have a software mask done well before (~ 3 months) production. I (gently) told him that his algorithm had a glitch when implemented in my microcontroller, whereas he hadn’t seen it (yet) in his flexible multiple chip system. We lost a $10,000 mask charge and 1 month on delivery, but he told the group that the glitch was real, and we worked well together afterwards.

    • #12
    • February 8, 2019, at 8:45 AM PST
    • 6 likes
  13. Skyler Coolidge

    You don’t say what ADA means. I’m guessing it’s not “Americans with Disabilities Act.”

    • #13
    • February 8, 2019, at 9:04 AM PST
    • 1 like
  14. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    In the 80’s, I was a First Lieutenant in the Individual Ready Reserve; My summer camps usually consisted of shuffling paper for two weeks at Ft. Bliss. I did help edit the SOP for the newest long-range air defense system, which started out mostly replacing the words “Nike Hercules” with the word “Patriot.” I did point out that the part of the SOP requiring a radio operator in the party searching a building for a bomb probably needed some modification.

    Just prior to one of these vacations, the Atlantic Magazine came out with an article detailing the problems with the Sgt. York. I was called to meet with a full bird colonel, who gave a presentation, just to me, refuting the points of the article. So, you have an active duty O-6 using about an hour of his time talking to a reserve O-2. To this day I have no idea why he wasted his time on this. My Father was a journalist, maybe that was it.

    Flailing desperation by a senior member of the ADA “gun mafia” — flashing back on quad 50s, Dusters, and the early excitement of the Vulcan?

    I’ve kept few documents from my youth, but that presentation would be institutional history/theory gold.

     

     

    • #14
    • February 8, 2019, at 10:08 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  15. Lash LaRoche Inactive

    I lived in El Paso during the 1980s and I remember the Sergeant York being tested at Fort Bliss.

    • #15
    • February 8, 2019, at 10:28 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  16. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):

    You don’t say what ADA means. I’m guessing it’s not “Americans with Disabilities Act.”

    Air Defense Artillery (?)

    • #16
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:43 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):
    The da Vinci surgical robot.

    I had heard rumblings about the da Vinci, but never any specifics.

    • #17
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:45 AM PST
    • Like
  18. RightAngles Member

    I hate to think of this mindset in companies which make things such as surgical devices or airplanes etc.

    • #18
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:47 AM PST
    • 2 likes
  19. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Skyler (View Comment):
    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    Read closer:

    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    come on!

    • #19
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:52 AM PST
    • 1 like
  20. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):

    You don’t say what ADA means. I’m guessing it’s not “Americans with Disabilities Act.”

    Air Defense Artillery (?)

    I’ve edited slightly, adding (ADA) after the first instance of air defense artillery. 

    • #20
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:56 AM PST
    • 4 likes
  21. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    Spin (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    Read closer:

    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    come on!

    In fairness, Skyler was right, that I did not define ADA up front. I’ve edited as you saw.

    • #21
    • February 8, 2019, at 11:58 AM PST
    • 1 like
  22. TGR9898 Coolidge

    RightAngles (View Comment):

    I hate to think of this mindset in companies which make things such as surgical devices or airplanes etc.

    In college I had a professor that said there are three types of engineers:

    The first type will quickly come to you and say “I’ve got the perfect solution for the problem”

    The second type will take a little longer and say “Given the parameters of the problem stated, here’s the best solution within that environment”

    The third type will take the longest and say “Based on the problem given, here’s the solution that sucks the least”

    The first type of engineer is highly confident t0 a fault, probably fell in love with their design (and we all know love is blind), and could likely kill someone one day with zero understanding of why.

    The second type of engineer is capable of understanding the limits of their design, but can still fall prone to the danger of falling in love.

    The third engineer is humble, thorough and is the one a good manager will want to give the important projects.

    I see a lot more of the 1st type of engineer than any other. As critical as I am of the horribly slow development at large companies like General Motors (and I have a couple of stories about their inefficient process), I fully understand the need to cross-check & validate all the work of their Type 1 engineers.

    One of these days I’d love to flesh out an article on the similarities between Type 1 & Type 3 engineers and Progressive vs. Conservative philosophies…

    • #22
    • February 8, 2019, at 12:00 PM PST
    • 9 likes
  23. Spin Coolidge
    Spin Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Spin (View Comment):

    Skyler (View Comment):
    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    Read closer:

    To give our tanks, infantry, and artillery enough freedom to execute our maneuver-centered doctrine, “Air Land Battle,” air defense artillery (ADA) had to effectively deal with both planes and helicopter gunships.

    come on!

    In fairness, Skyler was right, that I did not define ADA up front. I’ve edited as you saw.

    Oh…well I thought I saw it in there when I read it earlier…I guess not…sorry Skyler…

    • #23
    • February 8, 2019, at 12:15 PM PST
    • 3 likes
  24. Robert E. Lee Member
    Robert E. Lee Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Gun decking readiness reports is still accepted practice so places. It would often disgust me the way the system was manipulated by some.

    • #24
    • February 8, 2019, at 1:12 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  25. JosePluma Thatcher

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    JosePluma (View Comment):

    In the 80’s, I was a First Lieutenant in the Individual Ready Reserve; My summer camps usually consisted of shuffling paper for two weeks at Ft. Bliss. I did help edit the SOP for the newest long-range air defense system, which started out mostly replacing the words “Nike Hercules” with the word “Patriot.” I did point out that the part of the SOP requiring a radio operator in the party searching a building for a bomb probably needed some modification.

    Just prior to one of these vacations, the Atlantic Magazine came out with an article detailing the problems with the Sgt. York. I was called to meet with a full bird colonel, who gave a presentation, just to me, refuting the points of the article. So, you have an active duty O-6 using about an hour of his time talking to a reserve O-2. To this day I have no idea why he wasted his time on this. My Father was a journalist, maybe that was it.

    Flailing desperation by a senior member of the ADA “gun mafia” — flashing back on quad 50s, Dusters, and the early excitement of the Vulcan?

    I’ve kept few documents from my youth, but that presentation would be institutional history/theory gold.

    Obviously, I was pretty clueless back then. About the only mementos of my service are my ID, DD214, Lt’s bars and the crossed cannons with the missile.

     

    • #25
    • February 8, 2019, at 7:40 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  26. Boss Mongo Member

    JosePluma (View Comment):
    Obviously, I was pretty clueless back then. About the only mementos of my service are my ID, DD214, Lt’s bars and the crossed cannons with the missile.

    Pretty good momentos, @josepluma.

    • #26
    • February 9, 2019, at 9:23 AM PST
    • 5 likes
  27. iWe Reagan
    iWe Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OK, wearing my management hat … The way to drive forward requires optimism and proactive solutions. This is not the same as denying problems, but it is still not comfortable for the vast majority of engineers. 

     

    There is, in any program, a point at which is you do not threaten to shoot the engineers, the program will not get done.

     

     

     

    • #27
    • February 9, 2019, at 8:09 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  28. Doctor Robert Member

    Douglas Pratt (View Comment):

    Doctor Robert (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown: Does any of this ring a bell in your own experience?

    Yes. The da Vinci surgical robot. When this came into my specialty in 2010 or so I was the first gyn Doc at my hospital to pay for the training and start doing cases with it. It was supposed to give improved facility and fine motor control, thus making surgery go more quickly and safely, but we had the opposite results. Cases took forever, bleeding was harder to see, patients had bizarre complications from the position required, etc. After 50 cases, several of them near disasters, I stopped using the platform. Other, younger Docs have made it work in my specialty but we had a lot of complications and possibly a death from unrecognized bleeding (not my patient!), much of which was covered up by the administration. It really annoys me that I paid $15,000 or $20,000 in travel and training expenses, not to mention lost time and opportunity costs, for a technique that only harmed my patients.

    This technique had quickly become the standard for performing prostatectomies. A urologist friend of mine refused to go along, fearing that the loss of tactile information as to placing clamps on the lower margin of the gland would lead to more cases of recurrent cancer, he argued that 15 or 20 year data were needed but would never be obtained. His fears have turned out to be true, the allure of the robot is such that one cannot find a single study comparing long term survival after robotic versus open techniques.

    Something must have improved. I had a cancerous prostate removed a year and a half ago, with a quick recovery from the surgery and minimal side effects. I think my surgeon did a splendid job with the Da Vinci robot. He is a second generation urologist and has an excellent reputation, which is why I went to him in the first place. He was willing to do it the old fashioned way, especially after I teased him about operating with a PlayStation controller, but we decided to use the robot. I am satisfied with the outcome.

    This misses my point.

    Your urologist no doubt did a great job and I hope that you are cured and free of side effects.

    But he cannot tell you if you are more likely to have a recurrent cancer in 10 years than if he had done an open prostatectomy or less likely to do so, because the study has never been done and never will be done.

    It turns out that a head to head study WAS done in treating uterine cancer, which requires radical hysterectomies (technically analogous to radical prostatectomies). It had to be stopped early, because the 2 year mortality and recurrence rates were higher with the robot before the study even finished.

    Be cautious about new operations.

    • #28
    • February 10, 2019, at 2:05 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  29. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown

    iWe (View Comment):

    OK, wearing my management hat … The way to drive forward requires optimism and proactive solutions. This is not the same as denying problems, but it is still not comfortable for the vast majority of engineers.

     

    There is, in any program, a point at which is you do not threaten to shoot the engineers, the program will not get done.

    AND the ways not to drive forward include managers clinging to the status quo, and avoiding the short term pain of proactive solutions.

    • #29
    • February 10, 2019, at 5:33 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  30. Skyler Coolidge

    iWe (View Comment):
    There is, in any program, a point at which [if] you do not threaten to shoot the engineers, the program will not get done.

    I always found it grating that people who didn’t know how to build or design things felt they knew better. Shoot me? No. Or nothing will get done around here.

    Even more grating was when the IT department at Dell wouldn’t let us talk directly to the people writing code for us and put flunkies, who knew neither how to talk to engineers nor to software developers, as go-betweens (they called them “business agents”). The purported purpose was to allow the software guys to focus on their coding, but instead I had to talk to someone who didn’t understand what I wanted, for him to explain it to someone who didn’t know whether anything was important to me or not. They went so far as to hide their phone numbers from us. Gotta protect the rice bowl.

    So, to get things done, I had to go around managed road blocks and find people during their lunch breaks or whenever.

    And then there was the VP who told us that increasing through put was as easy as removing bottlenecks. Really? How about that. He turned out to be really good in the end, though.

    And of course the never ending push to get everyone certified as black belts. They wanted us to attend never ending classes on developing new ideas to make the process better. I always thought of that like making physicists endlessly copy multiplication tables.

    I loved engineering. I hated MBA’s.

    But as for the topic, I don’t really think of the original example as “leading up” so much as just having integrity. Leading is getting people to follow, for good or evil. Not falsifying reports is a matter of integrity.

    • #30
    • February 10, 2019, at 7:25 PM PST
    • 7 likes

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