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Fierce Protection

Delicious, just delicious. Pitches from Fred Brooks, Scott Berkun, Tom DeMarco, Tim Lister, and Steve McConnell all in one place:  the Construx (McConnell’s company) Software Executive Summit. You can download them from here:  Summit Materials.

Here’s a snapshot of one of Fred Brooks’s slides that struck me as paradoxical:

So…. who’s the “we” that Fred is addressing here and what’s the paradox? I’m pretty sure that Fred is addressing managers, right? The paradox is that he’s admonishing managers to protect great designers from…… managers. WTF?

But wait, I think I get it now. Fred is telling PHOR managers to “fiercely” protect designers from Bozo Managers (but in a non-offensive and politically correct way, of course). Alas, the fact that this slide appears at all in Fred’s deck implies that PHORs are rare and BMs are plentiful, no?

How do you interpret this slide?

  1. designfish
    December 6, 2010 at 7:54 am

    Well, beyond the fact that he commits the cardinal sin of graphic design (http://www.agencyfusion.com/intro/index2.html) it sounds like Fred is implying that designers are like sheep, and require a good shepherd to nurture, herd and provide for the flock. the “We” in this case is a benevolent overlord who in Fred’s opinion is the only one qualified to take care of the flock–sheep can’t be shepherds because sheep are too stupid and too focused on being sheep to manage the needs of the flock.

    beware the sheep who is the wolf in disguise…

    • December 6, 2010 at 8:14 am

      Interesting interpretation frequentfishcommenter. I don’t think Fred implies that designers are “fragile” wimps who can’t tie their shoelaces or stand up for themselves. I think Fred is hinting “nicely” to his manager audience (you know, the ones who pay for his advice) that one of the responsibilities of a PHOR manager is to increase the productivity of designers by deflecting external distractions and allowing designers to remain immersed in the problem and solution space – so that they can do what they do best for the org and (heaven forbid) have fun while doing it.

      Beware of the wolf in wolve’s clothing…..

  2. designfish
    December 6, 2010 at 10:42 am

    Not exactly on your current topic, but you may find this relevant…


    In “Entering the Path of Enlightenment,” the Buddhist philosopher Shantideva writes, “Whoever longs to rescue quickly both himself and others should practice the supreme mystery: exchange of self and other.”

    • December 6, 2010 at 4:12 pm

      Hint, hint, eh? Like I’ve said before, but maybe not enough times, I think there are great managers (PHORs) and bad managers (BMs). I like to rail against the “bad” ones because (whether you agree or not) I think the BMs in business outnumber the PHORs big time. Plus, using borderline inappropriate words and rude pics jacks up the melodrama and keeps the readership (lol – if you can call it that) comin’ back for more ala Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, etc. As I think you know, all this blog is is a dirtier and less talented version of Scott Adams’s Dilbert strip – not fit for mainstream consumption.

      Maybe I should put a disclaimer at the bottom of each page….

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