Sunday, August 12, 2007

Handling The Bozo Invasion

Invaluable advice from Joel Spolsky in "Getting Things Done When You're Only a Grunt":

Strategy 4: Neutralize The Bozos

Even the best teams can have a bozo or two. The frustrating part about having bad programmers on your team is when their bad code breaks your good code, or good programmers have to spend time cleaning up after the bad programmers.

As a grunt, your goal is damage-minimization, a.k.a. containment. At some point, one of these geniuses will spend two weeks writing a bit of code that is so unbelievably bad that it can never work. You're tempted to spend the fifteen minutes that it takes to rewrite the thing correctly from scratch. Resist the temptation. You've got a perfect opportunity to neutralize this moron for several months. Just keep reporting bugs against their code. They will have no choice but to keep slogging away at it for months until you can't find any more bugs. Those are months in which they can't do any damage anywhere else.

I agree for the scenario described above, that is if you have to deal with one or two bozos under your coworkers. There might be other situations, though. For example bozos placed in strategic positions, so they can highly influence your work. Or company growth based on hiring legions of morons. An invasion of bozos usually is a sign that an organization is doomed anyway. The path to downfall might be long and winding, and being doomed doesn't necessarily mean going out of business - just a slow and steady decline with failed projects paving the way. This is just inevitable. It's better to leave the sinking ship earlier than later in those cases.