Thursday, March 29, 2007


One of my jobs at the Enterprise is putting together presentations for Directors and VPs to help them understand the systems they are responsible for.

I build short presentations with the highest content. I figure that the VPs and Directors have limited time so I can't include all the details. I'm careful with my word choice and use lots of white space. The objective is to convey the essence of the computer systems and how they interact.

I was asked to put something together by a VP. I solicited feedback from a director, another software architect, and a systems programmer. I didn't want to miss any key elements.

So today I went before the VP with my "deck." (A "deck" is a stack of paper with words and diagrams. I don't know why they call it a deck. They just do.) The director and the other software architect were seated at the table across from me.

We got to page three and the VP began to type on his Blackberry so I stopped in mid-sentence. He finished and I continued. Soon again he was typing away on his Blackberry. I stopped. This continued throughout the meeting. This is why I can only cover 20 minutes of content in a one hour meeting.

We finally got back on track. While I was in the middle of explaining some nuance of the system he interrupted me with a quote from a movie. He asked me what movie the quote was from. I didn't know. He told me I ought to frequent the theaters more often if I expected to move to the next level. Seemed a strange comment for the context.

When I came to the part about including another business unit in our next design of the system, he went off on a tangent and used his middle finger to illustrate his point.

I paused, blinking back the shock. After that little outburst we returned to the deck. Next he began running his pen through some words in his copy. One of my sentences read: "The application is a pure HTML Internet facing solution."

He took issue with that. He complained that "Internet" and "HTML" were redundant. "Just say HTML." He also told me to remove the word "pure" since there was no such thing as "pure HTML."

I was shocked. I just couldn't believe my ears. I was looking down at the page and my vision began to blur. I looked up and imagined him wearing a Bozo wig and red nose. It was that weird. I swear I heard organ grinders and saw monkeys sitting around the table.

How could a VP in IT be so ignorant?

If you are ignorant, at least be silent.

I simply can't tolerate mediocrity.

There was no desire to understand the systems. I was simply entertainment.

Quote: Everything I've ever done was out of fear of being mediocre. -Chet Atkins