• Mike-o (unregistered)

    Are you serious? Can peple really not get it that badly? I wonder what the PM thought shge was asking for.

    Not MENSA. LOL!

  • waefafw (unregistered)

    I've had crap like this happen to me. It once got so bad that the original email made its way to the CIO. Eventually my boss and I had to explain to the client with what was basically hand puppets the situation.

  • eight days a week (unregistered)

    Maybe they were subtley trying to tell him to falsify the survey results, and he's the one who didn't get it.

    Either way, WTF?

  • Anonymous Mensa-Member (unregistered)

    Beeing a membeer of Mensa myself i can say that highly intelligent persons do stupid things too. We just do them faster!

  • Zemyla (unregistered)

    I actually posted before the topic was up, but it seems the forum doesn't like bending space and time either.

  • hwiz (unregistered)
    Comment held for moderation.
  • ObiWayneKenobi (unregistered)

    Wow.. just wow. Sadly I've been in similar situations (Clueless manager promising things to a client when it's impossible to do, then me getting reprimanded for not completing it).

    In a case like this, were I to get written up for being unable to do something not physically possible, I would have told that company where to go and walked out that day.

  • bt (unregistered)

    Excuse my lack of knowledge, but what is MENSA ? In germany it's the cafeteria where students get their lunch...

  • Dax (unregistered)

    What amazes me is the most of the people reading this wont say "WTF" they will say "par for the course." It always seemed funny to my that "Project Managers" who are tasked with keeping projects running and meeting deadlines can't grasp the simple concept of a calendar.

  • Dax (unregistered) in reply to bt
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Drum D. (cs) in reply to bt
    bt:
    Excuse my lack of knowledge, but what is MENSA ? In germany it's the cafeteria where students get their lunch...

    MENSA is a "club" of intelligent poeple and exists in Germany too ;)

    Crap boss, crap manger -> both should be slapped with alarge trout.

  • hwiz (unregistered) in reply to bt
    Comment held for moderation.
  • Marc (unregistered) in reply to bt
    Comment held for moderation.
  • dbs (unregistered)

    Sorry, this sounds like a basic miscommunication issue. I've worked with a lot of very intelligent folks, and a lot of not-so intelligent folks. When faced with an impossible situation, and management asserting it's your fault that the impossible conditions are not being met, then the problem is you're not making it clear to them why it it's impossible.

    There's limits to WTF'edness, and I'm sorry, but I have to blame Martin for not being able to communicate well. I've seen this sort of situation come time and time again where the tech goes on and on about "This is impossible!" and management going "Just do it!" - and the problem is that management is never told, in a way they understand, WHY it is is impossible.

    SO where's the fault? Management for asking for something they want and not getting it, or the employee for not doing something because he can't articulate why it's impossible in a way that management understands?

  • not so sure (unregistered) in reply to Dax
    Comment held for moderation.
  • not so sure (unregistered) in reply to dbs
    dbs:
    Sorry, this sounds like a basic miscommunication issue. I've worked with a lot of very intelligent folks, and a lot of not-so intelligent folks. When faced with an impossible situation, and management asserting it's your fault that the impossible conditions are not being met, then the problem is you're not making it clear to them why it it's impossible.

    There's limits to WTF'edness, and I'm sorry, but I have to blame Martin for not being able to communicate well. I've seen this sort of situation come time and time again where the tech goes on and on about "This is impossible!" and management going "Just do it!" - and the problem is that management is never told, in a way they understand, WHY it is is impossible.

    SO where's the fault? Management for asking for something they want and not getting it, or the employee for not doing something because he can't articulate why it's impossible in a way that management understands?

    Granted, there's more to the story than what's in the post, but it seems that the guy DID try to explain the simple concept of can't-finish-before-starting. Some bosses just don't (can't?) listen
  • nobody (unregistered)

    Maybe he just should have asked "What would you like the results to be?" and then supplied them. Meanwhile, in the time he saved not having to actually collect and process the results, he could be looking for a new job.

  • Me (unregistered) in reply to dbs
    dbs:
    There's limits to WTF'edness, and I'm sorry, but I have to blame Martin for not being able to communicate well. I've seen this sort of situation come time and time again where the tech goes on and on about "This is impossible!" and management going "Just do it!" - and the problem is that management is never told, in a way they understand, WHY it is is impossible.
    That's a joke, right? They want something done before it's done. Obviously, the only thing these buffons would understand is a baseball bat to the head.
  • Pap (cs)

    He could have done it; he just didn't want to put in the extra hours.

    PS: I'm a level 9 MindHead.

  • Joe Sloe (unregistered)

    The Conversation probably went like so:

    M: But you do realize, that I cannot get you the results you are looking for. Because You want the results Friday, however you want to mail out the invitations to employees Monday... Today is Thursday.
    PM: Yes, exactly, so why can't you do this? MENSA M: Because, I cannot bend time. PM: Oh... MENSA, well then MENSA, I need you do figure something out. MENSA M: Ok, then let me get back to work and finish making this survey, and on Monday 'Like you said' I'll send out the invites to the employees. PM: I need the results by Friday. M: Tomorrow? PM: Friday. M: Next Friday or tomorrow? PM: FRIDAY, what do you not understand about the word Friday. Gawd, you are stupid. MENSA M: I understand Friday, but if it is tomorrow, then it is impossible. Because the invites won't be sent out until AFTER FRIDAY!. PM: MENSA MENSA MENSA MENSA MENSA. M: Fuck it I quit.

  • Pap (cs) in reply to not so sure
    not so sure:
    Dax:
    http://www.mensa.org/

    From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mensa_International

    Mensa International is the largest, oldest, and best-known high-IQ society in the world. The organization restricts its membership to people with high testable IQs. Specifically, potential members must score within the top 2% (98th percentile) of any approved standardized intelligence test.

    And this person's boss' membership therein seems to shed some doubt on the quality of their tests

    I have a copy of the Mensa practice entrace exam. It's pretty questionable as to how they attempt to measure "intelligence", let me tell you.

  • bad boss (unregistered)

    I had an unethical boss explain that sort of behaviour to me some years ago.

    Make up impossible tasks in order to get rid of an employee you don't like.

  • LRB (unregistered) in reply to not so sure

    I can empathize with Martin. I just got a call last night stating that my contract was being terminated short because of failure to meet an impossible deadline. Strangely, I'm really not that upset over it. :)

    I'm willing to bet that Martin's PM knew what she was doing. She knew it was impossible for Martin to honestly comply with her request. She didn't care as long as she got her "results" or she had someone to place blame on for not getting the results. In the corporate world it's more about knowing how to place blame on others than actually producing anything yourself. And the sad part is that programmers are often blamed for higher ups making impossible committments.

  • MensaMember (unregistered)

    Martin should have done the obvious, and given the PM person the results of the survey. The fact that zero people have taken the survey doesn't mean that there are no results.

  • daRover (unregistered)

    Sorry. I just can't believe this one. Either we're not getting the whole story or this is complete fiction.

  • Simozene (unregistered)

    That's hilarious. He should have taken the survey himself and then sent the results to his boss with him being the only person that took it. :P

  • Isaac (unregistered)

    Here's my suggestion for how to communicate the temporal instability to the PM: Ask her to write down the project schedule for you, including the following milestones:

    • Requirements presented
    • Survey developed
    • Survey reviewed
    • Survey goes live
    • Survey closed to the public
    • Results processed
    • Results reviewed
    • Results presented to customer

    Preferably, it would be good to get this before starting on the project, but even at this late stage, a written schedule like this could be a useful tool for either clarifying the needs and possibilities or for demonstrating to management that this particular PM is off her scheduling rocker.

  • LRB (unregistered) in reply to dbs
    dbs:
    Sorry, this sounds like a basic miscommunication issue. I've worked with a lot of very intelligent folks, and a lot of not-so intelligent folks. When faced with an impossible situation, and management asserting it's your fault that the impossible conditions are not being met, then the problem is you're not making it clear to them why it it's impossible.

    There's limits to WTF'edness, and I'm sorry, but I have to blame Martin for not being able to communicate well. I've seen this sort of situation come time and time again where the tech goes on and on about "This is impossible!" and management going "Just do it!" - and the problem is that management is never told, in a way they understand, WHY it is is impossible.

    SO where's the fault? Management for asking for something they want and not getting it, or the employee for not doing something because he can't articulate why it's impossible in a way that management understands?

    This post would make an excellent WTF. Whose job is mainly communication project manager or programmer? Project Manager. Whose job is mainly communication manager or programmer? Manager.

    Communication is a 2 way street, but managers and PM's primary job duties involve interpersonal communication. A programmer's primary job duties involve communicating instructions to the computer. Yes I've seen programmers with serious communication problems, but I'm seen far more PM and managers with even larger communication problems. If the PM or manager doesn't know how to find some way to communicate well enough to grasp why it is impossible then they should be fired because they're not qualified to do their job. If you're the guy in charge making decisions you better either have people under you whose judgement you trust or you better damn well know all the implications of your decisions. Just because you don't immediately understand someone is not grounds for saying that it must not be important. Only a total moron would work that way.

  • typical_cracker (unregistered) in reply to bad boss
    bad boss:
    I had an unethical boss explain that sort of behaviour to me some years ago.

    Make up impossible tasks in order to get rid of an employee you don't like.

    Exactly what I was thinking. It's much easier to fire someone for not doing their job then it is to say:

    "Look, we really don't want you here, there's 2 months severance pay, have a nice life."

    Fooey on managers that don't have the balls to do the right thing. I hope you get back someday what you've dished out for years.

    It just sucks having to explain to an unemployment official why you got fired and why it was an unlawful firing and why you really should get unemployment benefits.

  • G Money (unregistered) in reply to Dax
    Comment held for moderation.
  • William (unregistered) in reply to MensaMember
    Martin should have done the obvious, and given the PM person the results of the survey. The fact that zero people have taken the survey doesn't mean that there are no results.

    That's a good point. He should have turned in the results of the survey-not-yet-taken (complete with fancy headers) and when they complained say that they were given the information for everyone that had taken the survey. When they complain again, simply state that nobody has taken it yet because marketing did not send out the invitation on time.

    SO easy to pass the buck on this one that it's almost immoral not to.

  • Milkshake (unregistered) in reply to LRB

    The right answer for Martin was to ask his manager, in an email, not a conversation, "As I understand my assignment, you have asked me to [task details]. It is not possible to give the client honest, accurate results and also stay within the parameters you have given. Are you asking for falsified results?"

    Then, you forward the email and any responses to his supervisor before you take home your own printed copies. In the event that there's a backlash, that would be the only paperwork you need to guarantee unemployment coverage while you find a new position.

  • BAH (unregistered)

    This is perfectly in keeping with management as I know it. "I sold the customer a structural analysis of his application by later today for $1000. He gave me this two-sentence verbal description of the system." "It takes at least two weeks and source code, and we usually charge at least $10K. There's a lot of work involved, that's why the reports are usually 20 to 50 pages." "The customer said he only wants to know if the application will fail or not. That's only one word. He doesn't need all the pages of report, and he was only willing to spend $1000. Let me know the answer by 4 o'clock."

  • xcor057 (unregistered) in reply to bad boss

    It happens all the time. A co-worker of mine was fired because a production problem was not handled correctly for a customer, costing the customer thousands of dollars. The problem was the co-worker was off-site at another customer. The manager that fired the co-worker assigned the production problem to another co-worker (that he liked) to resolve while they were out.

  • Lady Nocturne (unregistered)

    In Spanish, "mensa" means stupid.

    FWIW.

  • Isaac (unregistered) in reply to BAH

    Re: the structural analysis:

    That's easy. The answer is "yes." If they want to know under what circumstances the application will fail, it'll take some more work...

  • stevekj (cs)

    What Martin should have done, of course, is to explain to the PM that since the chain of events specified, consisting of the transmission of the notification of the survey, the completion of the survey by the surveyees, and the emailing of the final result, is causally related and therefore that each event is necessarily within the future light cone of the logically preceding event, or in other words that the events are separated by timelike intervals and not spacelike ones, therefore there is no frame of reference the PM could occupy in which the emailing of the final result could be observed to precede the initial notification of the survey.

    That would have cleared it up for sure.

  • bholman (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Mensa-Member

    I was offered membership once. I even took the test and got a high enough scorre, but decided I didn't want to be a "membeer". <grin>

  • MrBester (unregistered)
    Martin's job duties as a web developer included some murkily-defined responsibilities including "Other Duties as Required."
    Sounds like my job. In my case it's the company sysadmin (including co-lo servers owned by clients).

    Having 5 "go to the headmaster's office" incidents in 9 months doesn't seem particularly good on Martin's part. Then again, it could just be because Paula the PM is idiotic as she doesn't understand the concept of linear time.

  • Nicolás Sanguinetti (unregistered)

    Surely this isn't the same Paula that....

    OH-MY-GOD!

  • ObiWayneKenobi (unregistered) in reply to Nicolás Sanguinetti
    Nicolás Sanguinetti:
    Surely this isn't the same Paula that....

    OH-MY-GOD!

    I think it's been established that "Paula" is the catch-all generic name (like John/Jane Doe) on this site, like "Initech" for companies.

    CAPTCHA: Ninjas. w00t!

  • Romeo (unregistered)

    The real WTF is that he didn't send the results. They should be like this:

    Survey Results

    Option A - 0% Option B - 0% Option C - 0% Option D - 0%

    And so on...

    I'm sure MENSA people should be satisfied with that.

  • sxpert (unregistered) in reply to dbs
    There's limits to WTF'edness,

    that's obviously a false statement :D

  • Unklegwar (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Mensa-Member
    Anonymous Mensa-Member:
    Beeing a membeer of Mensa myself i can say that highly intelligent persons do stupid things too. We just do them faster!

    Check your MENSA dictionary on how to spell BEING.

    MENSA has something to do with 'tards, right?

  • til (unregistered) in reply to MrBester
    MrBester:
    Then again, it could just be because Paula the PM is idiotic as she doesn't understand the concept of linear time.

    Well, she must have written her own brillant calendar application. That would explain everything.

    Captcha: stinky. No, thanks!

  • Unklegwar (unregistered) in reply to Anonymous Mensa-Member
    Anonymous Mensa-Member:
    Beeing a membeer of Mensa myself i can say that highly intelligent persons do stupid things too. We just do them faster!

    Check your MENSA dictionary on how to spell BEING.

    MENSA has something to do with 'tards, right?

  • ElQuberto (unregistered)

    This one's easy: just send the survey to people across the international date line. You save a day right there. Have them send it back -- but the other way around the world -- yet another day saved!

    Trimming a third day off of this is left as an exercise. I'm off to my MENSA meeting.

    / captcha: Tesla. A piker compared to me

  • Not a 'tard (unregistered) in reply to Unklegwar
    Unklegwar :
    MENSA has something to do with 'tards, right?

    After reading this article and all the comments, that statement is friggin' hilarious and completely fitting.

  • skippy (cs) in reply to Anonymous Mensa-Member
    Anonymous Mensa-Member:
    Beeing a membeer of Mensa myself i can say that highly intelligent persons do stupid things too. We just do them faster!

    Max Power: Kids, there's three ways to do things. The right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way! Bart: Isn't that the wrong way? Max Power: Yeah, but faster!

  • Mike (unregistered) in reply to BAH

    Oh, please! I can handle that one!

    4:00 PM rolls around...

    Me: "The structure is very likely to fail."

    Boss: "Why?"

    Me: "I can't elaborate; that level of detailed information is only available in our regular structural analysis job, which the client has not yet paid for."

    If the boss presses, I'll just point out that a two-sentence description is insufficient data for a detailed response, since, as any member of MENSA should know, you're not going to get more information out of a system than you put in (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

    I work for the government, so I have to deal with this kind of silliness all the time. It helps to remember that "The customer is always right" is also a bludgeon with which you can beat the customer about the head.

    Regarding the original post, I would have sent the zero-results survey output, with a P.S. that these numbers are subject to change over the next week when people take the survey. Maybe they just wanted to see the formatting? (Yeah, I'm feigning stupidity on that last bit.)

    I find this hilarious, because even though I routinely scored top of my classes and got labeled a genius and took all the associated abuse back when I was in school, I never wanted to join MENSA. Seriously, my ego was enough out of joint and I knew it even then. Aside from resume padding, what good is MENSA, anyway? I never see them mentioned as a contributing force in any of the stuff I read about in Scientific American.

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