The Skeptical Methodologist

Software, Rants and Management

Never forget the Stakeholder

We hear this drummed into our heads since birth by business gurus, yet it still seems to be ignored. I believe this is because it is sometimes hard to remember who the stakeholder is.

The stakeholder being the customer is the easiest case. In more subtle cases, the stakeholder is marketing, or management. In the most devious of cases, the stakeholder is you.

Case in point: source control and project management. Who makes the decisions on the use of these tools? Which ones to go with, how the policies are set up, and so on. Very rarely is it the actual user of the system! Prime example of ignoring stakeholders. Instead, the decision goes to some minority party with a very small stake, who is either wowed by some diagram or impressed with how lazy he can be in the use of the product. Thus, source control programs like Team Foundation Server are born: complex to merge, diff, branch, and other bread and butter tasks. But easy as hell to ‘manage’. You can lock down that sucker tight.

Why on earth do project managers get to choose modeling tools that are lucky if they generate working software? Why do corporate reps chose source control tools? Why does IT get to decide what browser you use?

Don’t let minority stakeholders make decisions at the expense of the majority. If you are a majority stakeholder, it is up to you to make sure your voice is heard – remind the minority that it is in fact you who will be using this tool and process the most. More importantly though, if you are a minority stakeholder, it is up to you to remember that random luck might occasionally give you the power to make decisions – you must make wise ones that identify the true majority stakeholders and not succumb to laziness or egoism on your part. Remember that speeding up the 99% majority by 5% has a higher return on investment than doubling your productivity as a 1% stake holder.


May 24, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fat Chance

In the first post towards turning this into a blog of wider interests, I wanted to make a quick comment on the obesity epidemic.  To be more specific, how people react to the obesity epidemic.

There’s a good amount of evidence that contrary to popular belief, we aren’t eating drastically more calories than we used to, nor do we laze the days away on our couches. The best evidence we have to date (and this is a surprisingly hard thing to study) says we move about the same amount, and eat about the same amount. This certainly isn’t the only argument against the highly popularized ‘calories-in-calories-out’ view of obesity, but it’s the widest reaching.

Interestingly, though, when alternative theories are put forward, such as “We’re all getting older”, and “We’ve stopped smoking” or even “Perhaps its a virus”, the blow back is tremendous.  “WEIGHT LOSS IS SIMPLE!”, the zealous masses froth, “EAT LESS AND MOVE MORE!” It doesn’t take much prying to figure out why they aren’t convinced by the evidence out there that weight is more complicated than that. You see, their fundamental theory they’re defending has nothing to do with weight loss or weight gain, it’s this: Fat people are lazy fucks. The questioning of calories-in-calories-out implies that there are, indeed, fat people out there who somehow manage to put down the mountains of ice cream and Doritos long enough to diet and it did not lead to long term weightloss.  Even worse, it implies that there are fat people out there who climbed on one of the myriad of hysterical contraptions (it seems there’s a new one every month) designed to ‘hit their fat burning zone’, and stayed at it for hours a day, and found that those contraptions too did not lead to long term weightloss.

In other words, questioning calories-in-calories-out implies there are fat fucks out there who aren’t so lazy.  In fact, it implies that there are fat fucks out there who might very well be more disciplined than the rest of us.

“IMPOSSIBLE!” the crowds shout. How can they question the evidence piled against calories-in-calories-out, herein referred to as the ‘Aristotelian’ view of weight loss?  “EASY!” they scream, “RESEARCH INVOLVED FAT FUCKS! WE ALL KNOW FAT FUCKS LIE ABOUT EXERCISE AND DIET!!!”

So let’s recap really quickly: our fundamental theory is that fat fucks are lazy.  And all evidence to the contrary can be thrown right out, because, you see, fat fucks are liars.

OK, we get it.  You don’t like fat people. Indeed, nothing seems to make you happier than seeing fat people starve, walking in place on a moving belt that goes no where for hours at a time. You’re allowed your opinions. I mean, after all, for a large part of our history people didn’t like Blacks, Jews or Gays. I think it worked out okay for them. Hey, they even invented more and more wild explanations to justify their hatred too, kind of like you. So at least you have company.

The sad thing is, many of the very researchers and medical professionals involved in this debate are themselves proponents of fat bigotry. So are we going to be able to act like rational adults here and try and get to the bottom of why we weigh more than we used to, and whether or not it’s a bad thing, without stirring up irrational spittle-mouth hatreds of people based on body shape?

Fat chance.

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment