Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Hard Lessons

Learning a lesson from the Gipper.
I do not know how to describe the last month other than a difficult slog.  In that time, I have learned some valuable lessons about myself and what type of leader I need to become.

My daytime career has seen the transition from consultant to full time employee.  This is the first time in over five years; I have not been on the consulting merry-go-round.  It is nice to have developed a modicum of trust and to know that I am not going to be cast off like a dirty piece of facial tissue.  I am also looking forward to medical insurance.  Still, it makes me wonder why it took over four years to find a place to call home. 

I have also spent the last four weeks compensating for the malpractice of some consultants I worked with.  I took it for granted that they were the same kind of professionals I was and that they were committed to getting the project done on time and on budget.  I was grossly deceived.
 
After some investigation, my team lead and I discovered that unit tests were rigged to pass rather than testing actual functionality.  Stubs were put into place instead of connections to a database and worst of all, instructions and code reviews were ignored. 


We were left with software one third complete and two weeks prior to release date.  I felt a mixture of feelings but the most dominant one was betrayal.  I trusted these individuals to help get the work done and they did the bare minimum to create the illusion of completion. 
All this has reminded me about a nugget of wisdom from Ronald Regan, "Trust, but verify."  I trusted the work of the consultants too much and my reward was four weeks of crunch time where we condensed nine weeks' worth of work into numerous 12 hour days. 

I will need to be less trusting as a manager and verify the work of my colleagues with a much more critical eye.  If I am going to be a leader I will have to internalize that lesson.  Otherwise, I am going to have a lot more hectic weeks and unhappy customers.
Until next time.