In our industry, we all know that managers cause problems when they try to, well, manage. This invariably causes us to get frustrated. Sometimes when we rebel and try to force them to do the right thing, we are the ones that pay for it with our jobs. Sometimes, they get impatient at our mortal lack of $Deity-level skills to make the magic happen fast enough for them, and we pay for that with our jobs as well.

Occasionally, even though it seems as though managers never pay for their mistakes, Codethulu smiles upon us and gives us a glimpse of a Utopian world...

Back in the mid 1990s, Dennis worked for privately-held Web Accessible Network Kernal, Inc. (WANKCO), a small manufacturer of large automated network test equipment. WANKCO had a couple dozen employees and had not yet developed any big-company policies. Specifically, they did not have the one where you have to use your vacation time or else lose most of it at the end of the fiscal year.

Dennis was very busy as the lead engineer for a very important and very late product that was forecast to make bundles of money for WANKCO. He had been working evenings and weekends designing hardware and firmware and hadn't had a vacation for well over a year. He had lots of vacation time accrued and planned to take a nice long trip after the product was released and seen through its inevitable birthing pains.

One day, WANKCO was purchased by publicly-held Initech. WANKCO quickly inherited a small herd of PHBs, and the alpha PHB informed the minions that, among other PHB things: 1) Vacation carryovers at the end of the fiscal year would be capped according to Initech policy, and 2) Dennis's project was a Critical Corporate Priority and must be finished at the earliest possible date or dire consequences would result for the non-pointy-haired among them. Development staff were to be put on a mandatory fifty-hour work week until the project was complete. A sign-in sheet was provided so they could log their arrival and quitting times each day. Several of the developers happily complied by cutting their work week down to the mandated fifty hours. Apparently, pointiness keeps some people from picking up on the obvious.

The end of the fiscal year was already near when these announcements were made, and the Critical Corporate Priority was within mere weeks of completion. Dennis asked the PHBs for a one-time exception to the vacation carryover policy so that he could see the project across the finish line without sacrificing most of his accrued vacation time. They refused. Thus, with PHB-blessings, Dennis took off on a five-week vacation. With nobody else being qualified to take over his part of the work, the Critical Corporate Priority was delayed by another five weeks. The PHBs couldn't understand why the mandated fifty-hour work weeks did not advance the completion date by a single minute, although Dennis was sure that it made the PHBs appear more pointy than usual.

In spite of finger pointing, insinuating emails and general PHB-isms, Initech and its WANKCO subsidiary survived the delay and the product was eventually shipped.

A parade of PHBs regularly cycled through WANKCO on rotation. After ten years and several changes of ownership, WANKCO went private again. In the process the PHBs were jettisoned, illustrating that not all tales of managerial WTF have an unhappy ending.

Sometimes you just have to wait 'em out.

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